From the moment Titanic had begun to take on water until about 2:17 a.m., the ship had been sinking steadily, but with only a slight list. It would have been possible for the band to play during those hours. The music stands would have stood erect, the cellists’ chairs would have stayed in place, the…… Continue reading Titanic’s final number: Logistics, proximity and a good ear
For a century it has been debated which was the last piece of music played by Titanic’s band. As soon as survivors rescued by the steamer Carpathia were able to communicate with the outside world about the event, word spread that they had heard strains of the hymn Nearer, My God, To Thee in their lifeboats…… Continue reading Titanic’s final number: A century of debate
In the days following the disaster few people had a clear idea about what had happened the night Titanic sank. It is quite easy to become confused with passenger accounts and press reports. In many cases the witnesses and reporters had incomplete or inaccurate information. In the aftermath of the disaster all involved were grasping to…… Continue reading Sunday Night Part II How accurate are passenger accounts?
When reading interpretations of Titanic survivors’ accounts one needs to sift through the information carefully. Just because a survivor mentioned a performance by the band on Sunday night, it does not necessarily mean it was at the time Titanic was sinking. Here is one example: Violet Jessop, who was a First Class stewardess on Titanic,…… Continue reading Sunday Night Part I How do we interpret accounts?
The Music Scene Then and Now. In 1912 the music scene was on the eve of many transformations. At that time popular music, born of divergent cultural influences in the USA, was beginning to have an infectious appeal to audiences. Ragtime was making it big abroad, as was jazz. And yet, the music of the…… Continue reading Titanic sailed in the golden age of trained musicians
There is an art to arranging music, and it is an interesting topic to touch on considering Titanic’s repertoire was entirely arranged. Basically, music intended for one instrument or ensemble is re-written to suit the characteristics of a different instrument or ensemble. The pianist and string players on board likely did not grow up practicing…… Continue reading The art of arranging Titanic’s music
What was listed in the White Star Line MUSIC songbook? Part IV Titanic sailed at a time in music history when there were few clear lines defining musical taste. There was little distinction made between music composed by major composers who were highly recognized in the public ear, and those who were well-liked from a…… Continue reading The popular side of the WSL songbook.
What was listed in the White Star Line MUSIC songbook? Part III The word “number” as it refers to a music selection comes from books like the WSL songbook, where an ensemble’s extensive repertoire was listed by number. The audience could participate in an informal performance, making requests by calling out the numbers of the…… Continue reading Titanic’s WSL songbook – Intermezzos and Popular tunes
What was listed in the White Star Line MUSIC songbook? Part II The composers of the 1910s era we continue to cherish to this day, among them Debussy, Fauré, Ravel, Delius, Mahler and Elgar were not well represented in Titanic’s request list – only Elgar’s music appeared. It seems as though the society of the…… Continue reading Composers in Titanic’s WSL songbook – Who made the list?
If you have ever seen a karaoke list you will be able to picture the music list in the White Star Line songbook. It was a stapled booklet, small enough to carry in your purse or pocket, with a faun-colored card stock cover and off-white inside pages. There were 9 pages of numbers listed.* The…… Continue reading What was listed in the White Star Line MUSIC songbook? Part I