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Downton Abbey: our guide to the soundtrack and composer of the hit TV show and film

The Emmy Award-winning theme tune for the ITV period drama has been reworked for the film

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We all know it. Accompanied by spasmodic strings and the occasional contrasting legato from a violin, a minimalistic tune made of just a few notes on the piano conjures up a nostalgic atmosphere. It’s the theme of ITV’s Downton Abbey.

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Who wrote the theme tune to Downton Abbey?

Written by Scottish composer John Lunn, this simple melody appears in all six seasons of the acclaimed Downton Abbey series and also sets the tone in screenwriter Julian Fellowes’s full feature film. Alongside the original theme, Lunn incorporates elements of popular 1920s styles like upbeat jazz arrangements and contrasting waltz motifs, fitting the film’s setting in autumn 1927.

How John Lunn transformed the Downton Abbey soundtrack for the film adaptation

When asked about his musical plans for the film, Lunn commented, ‘At first it was like discovering a long-lost friend, but gradually I realised that we’d never really been apart; by the end it was just such a joy to revisit this material and have the opportunity to take it to a whole new level.’

The original music for the series earned Lunn two Primetime Emmy Awards (in 2012 and 2013) and an Emmy nomination in 2014, and two BAFTA nominations (2012 and 2016).

In 2015, an album entitled ‘Downton Abbey – the ultimate collection’ was released, with the Chamber Orchestra of London playing Lunn’s score.

You can buy the Downton Abbey soundtrack on CD from Amazon.

For any budding piano players out there, the Downton Abbey soundtrack is also available as a piano reduction from Amazon.

Who is John Lunn?

Born in 1956, Lunn started his musical career as a member of the 80s systems music band Man Jumping. The seven-man band toured Britain and experienced relative success until splitting three years after its formation.

Lunn has since encountered more long-lasting success in the business of film and TV composition. Besides working as a music consultant for the 1994 cult romantic comedy Four Weddings and a Funeral, he scored BBC One’s murder mystery Shetland as well as The Last Kingdom.

The composer has been particularly prolific in the field of period drama, with the music of the BBC’s reworks of Dickens’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood (2013), Little Dorrit (2008), nominated both for the BAFTA and the Emmy awards, and Bleak House (2006) all under his name.

Downton Abbey 2

Following the success of the first Downton Abbey film, a sequel is scheduled for release on 18 March 2022. We think it’s safe to assume that John Lunn’s iconic theme tune will return again for the new film…

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Little information has been released about the upcoming sequel film, but the production company has released a few first look images to get you excited.

4178_D009_00427_RC Hugh Bonneville stars as Robert Grantham and Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary in DOWNTON ABBEY: A New Era, a Focus Features release. Credit: Ben Blackall / © 2021 Focus Features, LLC
4178_D012_00761_RC Laura Haddock stars as Myrna Dalgleish and Michael Fox as Andy in DOWNTON ABBEY: A New Era, a Focus Features release. Credit: Ben Blackall / © 2021 Focus Features, LLC
4178_D054_01693-01700_RCC (l-r.) Harry Hadden-Paton stars as Bertie Pelham, Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith, Tuppence Middleton as Lucy Smith and Allen Leech as Tom Branson in DOWNTON ABBEY: A New Era, a Focus Features release. Credit: Ben Blackall / © 2021 Focus Features, LLC