There were two Steinway pianos in Titanic’s Second Class, both Model K uprights. The difference in size between the First Class Model R uprights and Second Class Model K uprights was two inches, at 54” and 52” respectively. Even though both sizes were quite large by today’s standards (for home pianos), and therefore also quite resonant, there would have been a slight difference in the dynamic capability of sound. The larger pianos would have had a fuller sound.
The main difference would have been in the bass range. The taller the upright, the longer the bass strings. As bass strings are strung diagonally from the upper left to the lower right, each vertical inch added to the height of a piano could add several inches in length to the longest string. The longer the bass strings, the closer they can vibrate at the true frequency of their pitch (the length of the string corresponding with the length of the soundwave it produces). This impacts the quality and fullness of sound. In the First Class Model R pianos the bass strings would have been closer in length to those found inside a mid-sized grand piano.
However, the Second Class pianos were nothing to sniff at, after all they were Steinways.
The performance piano was located in the Second Class entrance foyer on C Deck. Passengers who walked through the entrance from the Port side, or descended the stairs from the landing between B and C Decks, would have seen it well. The piano was tucked in the Port side of the main mast which penetrated the decks just aft of the Second Class Library door.
This Model K6 upright had been ordered from the Steinway factory in Hamburg and delivered to the Harland & Wolff shops in Belfast. The piano had been completed in the Steinway factory all but the French finish, which was applied post delivery to ensure the wood stain on the piano matched the décor of the entrance hall.
This photo shows detail of the piano as well as a chair or two for sitting musicians, and a standard conservatory-style folding music stand. The Second Class Library door is visible in the wall just forward of the mast.
Titanic‘s Second Class also had a piano in their Dining Saloon on D Deck. This one resembled the First Class pianos in that it was “art case,” meaning finished by craftsmen who designed the cabinet with a unique style not available in factory built models. While not as ornate as the pianos in First Class, it was finished with carvings and veneers to complement the alcove in which it was installed.
Second Class passengers would have been well satisfied with the pianos afforded them. In any setting a piano adds a touch of class, and on Titanic only served to enhance the wondrous experience of traveling on the world’s finest liner, even in Second Class.
- Titanic’s First Class pianos
- March 1912: Titanic’s musicians and pianos in place
- Did Titanic have ‘palm court’ performances?
Images from TITANIC The Ship Magnificent, Beveridge, Klistorner, Hall, Andrews. All rights reserved. Many thanks to the authors for permission.
3 thoughts on “Titanic’s second class pianos”
It is interesting to see the piano with an open fallboard, allowing passengers to use it (I don't think that the photograph was \”composed\” for publicity reasons, otherwise the Thonet chairs and music stand would have been taken away). Modern instruments in public places are often locked.
Titanic Honor and Glory is currently developing a virtual sim of the RMS Titanic, making it as detailed as humanly possible and as deep as their research can go (there are 38 known photos of the inside of Titanic). Currently in the free demo, all six of Titanic’s pianos are represented. A high end PC and graphics card are recommended. At this point in development the sim is very incredible though with plenty of developmental rough edges.
Wow! Looks beautiful!