The Music of Downton Abbey

By Brian McCreath

Downton Abbey, from WGBH’s Masterpiece Classic, won the 2012 Emmy Award for Original Dramatic Score for a Series. Classical New England talks with John Lunn, the composer of the winning score.

Highclere Castle, the setting of Downton Abbey
(image by Mike Searle, via Wikimedia;  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

When you think of Masterpiece’s Downton Abbey, the first thing that comes to mind might be Highclere Castle, which “plays” Downton Abbey itself. Or maybe the mind-boggling “proper-ness” of practically every single character depicted.

One especially powerful aspect of Downton you may not have noticed – at least consciously – was the music you heard.

In a way, that’s as it should be. The score was written by John Lunn and accomplishes precisely what any film score must: a ratcheting up of the emotional trajectory of the story while simultaneously going unnoticed.

You might imagine Lunn as a wizard-like composer in a meticulous process, weaving together strands of silvery sound to form a gorgeous tapestry. But as he told me, that’s not exactly how the process started:

To hear more about Downton Abbey from actress Elizabeth McGovern, visit The World.

Here's a look back at Season 2:

Watch Downton Abbey I Wonder Preview on PBS. See more from Masterpiece.



More Arts & Drama


Sound Tracks


WGBH Music


Call the Midwife

Sign Up

Sign-up for WGBH Arts & Drama updates, WGBH promotions, and previews of what's coming up on WGBH TV.

Support for WGBH is provided by:
Become a WGBH sponsor