Was Titanic’s last performance impacted by separate libraries?

Did Titanic’s two bands have separate libraries? Part III

The Final Performance

With separate libraries, how could Titanic’s two bands have performed together on the night of the sinking? The story has always been told that the two bands came together to perform for passengers on the night the Titanic sank. From a musical point of view there is no reason to question this.

Both bands would have been familiar with music from the same request list. In their final performance it is unknown whether they each played from their own part (amalgamating the trio and quintet arrangements for each number), or whether the trio looked on with the quintet’s arrangements (the more likely scenario).

In orchestras it is standard for two instruments to read from the same desk (i.e. music stand). It is possible that Titanic’s musicians shared parts on the night of the sinking, violin reading with violin, cello reading with cello. It was their professional talent to perform the music at sight.

If it ever was proven beyond a doubt that both ensembles had different playlists, it still would not preclude the possibility that the eight musicians performed together on the night the Titanic sank. If they played side by side on that night, the musicians with like instruments most certainly could have shared their sheet music. The fact that the two ensembles had separate libraries would not have stopped them from playing together.


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