Musical Heroes Wallace Hartley and the Titanic Band
The Ship's Musicians Played as Titanic Sank
Yes, it's true that the Titanic's band played as the great ocean liner was sinking.
Bandmaster Wallace Hartley, just 33, and the other seven musicians knew full well that they were doomed. By all accounts, not a one of them ever even donned a life jacket.
We'll never know what was in their minds, nor will we know exactly what music they played. But play they did. And played, and played.
Wallace Hartley was their leader, bandmaster on the Titanic.
At first, they played upbeat tunes in the first class lounge. Later, they moved out on deck and played as passengers desperately tried to escape. Finally, they played one last song, and shortly after . . . they were gone forever.
Monument to Wallace Hartley
Photo by LankyLad of CruiseLineFans
R.M.S. Titanic struck an iceberg
the night of April 14, 1912 and
sank to the sea floor in the
wee hours of April 15, 1912
All eight musicians perished
Wallace Hartley, Titanic Bandmaster
Wallace Hartley grew up in Colne, Lancashire, and developed a love of music as a boy. He was a church choirboy under the direction of his choirmaster father, and studied violin early on.
He was an accomplished violinist, having been first violinist in a municipal orchestra before signing on with the Cunard Line, where played first on the Lucania, and then the Lusitania. He must have been making a name for himself, as he was promoted to bandmaster of the famous Mauretania in the fall of 1910.
Then, at age 33, he was appointed bandmaster for the maiden voyage of White Star's brand new, luxurious RMS Titanic, where he would play his last song ever.
Wallace Hartley's Violin FOUND!
A violin found with Wallace Hartley's body was confirmed as being the one he played as the Titanic Sank.
It sold at auction for a record 1.7 Million dollars!
A Hymn for Eternity: - The Story of Wallace Hartley, Titanic Bandmaster
Now Available! Publication Date: April 1, 2012
The story of Wallace Hartley and his band playing as the ship sank is one of the most amazingly poignent true vignettes from the sinking of the Titanic. Yet, little has been known about Hartley and his mates.
Author Yvonne Carroll is about to change that, after years of research into the lives of the head violinist and the other musicians.
This book promises to tell the story of one of the great heroes of the Titanic tragedy. And, it is set to debut just days before the 100th anniversary of the fateful event.
The Titanic Musicians Monument
Southampton, United Kingdom
The orchestra members contracted to play on board the RMS Titanic were all hand picked by bandmaster Wallace Hartley. . Some had been members of military bands. Some had played on other ocean liners. All were first rate musicians
The valor, self-discipline, and composure they displayed that night was nothing short of extrordinary. Their names are etched on the RMS Titanic Musician's Memorial, in Southampton.
MEMBERS OF THE TITANIC ORCHESTRA
Wallace Hartley - bandmaster, violin
Roger Marie Bricoux, cello
Theodore Ronald Brailey, piano
John Wesley Woodward, cello
John Frederick Preston Clarke, string bass and viola
John Law Hume, violin
Percy Cornelius Taylor, piano
Georges AlexandrÃ© Krins, violin
The Heroic Musicians - of the Titanic
What did the Band Play
as the Titanic was Sinking?
What Music Did The Titanic Musicians Play?
We'll never know for sure.
But researchers have pieced together some very good probabilities. They've based their assumptions on remarks of survivors, playlists from the White Star Line, the likely reprotoires of the musicians, and the popular tunes of the day.
At first, the band was roused from their slumber, and ordered to play tunes to keep the First Class passengers entertained and calmed. They most likely played upbeat tunes - perhaps including Irving Berlin and other ragtime tunes - which were popular at the time.
A female passenger departing in a lifeboat is reported to have seen men near the railing, smoking cigarettes and tapping their toes to the band's music.
Music from a Historic Time - Titanic Music
Music played by, and that might have been played by the band on the great ocean liner.
Do you think the Titanic Musicians were heroic?
The Band's Last Number
on the Boat Deck of the Titanic
At some point, the lounge had mostly emptied of passengers, and the band moved eventually out onto the boat deck, though some reports have them playing for a time in another location before relocating outside.
Even after their leader released them to "save yourselves," the band members saw that Hartley was continuing to play, and so did they. The valiant orchestra continued playing until they could no longer stand.
The last song? It's uncertain, but may be one of three, each of which was reported by various passengers as their final number:
Nearer, My God, to Thee - Tune: Propior Deo
Nearer, My God, to Thee - Tune: Bethany
"Autumn" - Songe d'Automne
Nearer, My God, to Thee
One of two tunes:
Propior Deo or Bethany
Nearer, My God, to Thee - (Propior Deo) - From "A Night to Remember" (1958)
A number of sources report that musicians who had played with Hartley in the past said he had actually told them that, were he every to find himself aboard a sinking ship, he would play one of two songs: Either "Nearer, My God, to Thee" or "O God, Our Help in Ages Past"
This is the version the bandmaster favored, and the one his family feels must have been played
Nearer, My God, to Thee (Bethany Melody) - From the 1997 movie Titanic.
A number of American passengers also reported hearing "Nearer, My God, to Thee" being played at the last. However, they would have recognized the music Bethany, which was the tune to which the hymn was sung in the States.
Autumn - Songe d'Automne
Autumn - Song of Autumn or Dream of Autumn
Titanic's junior wireless operator, Harold Bride, reported that the final tune played was "Autumn." It is now thought that he referred to Song of Autumn, or Dream of Autumn, popular at the time. Bride died in 1956.
Which Song Do You Think Was the Last One?
Which song do you believe was the last one the Titanic Band played?
Heroes Then, Heroes Still
In the Eyes of Many
The musicians of the Titanic were widely hailed as heroes in the days after the sinking of the great ocean liner. Their extraordinary actions that night inspired others facing grave danger. Their story inspires us still.
It would be two weeks before Hartley's body was recovered... still in his green band uniform.
A thousand people crowded into a chapel meant for 700 for his funeral, and a reported 30,000 to 40,000 lined the route of his funeral procession, which was led by no less than seven bands.
Though not all of the eight band members' bodies were recovered, all were revered as heroes, and given farewell ceremonies befitting such.
were rescued by
Captain Rostron of RMS Carpathia
Read More about the Titanic Musicians
You may find interesting reading about the last moments of the Titanic and her musicians who went down with the ship in some of the these articles I found in doing background research and fact checking for this page.
- Titanic-Titanic.com Article - Titanic's Valiant Musicians
Titanic's Valiant Musicians
- Did Faith Drive Titanic's Musicians?
Bandmaster Wallace Hartley's father was a Methodist choirmaster.
- A Hymn To Remember
The last moments of the Titanic are full of mysteries - none more intriguing than those surrounding the ship's band
- BBC - Legacies - Myths and Legends - England - Lancashire - Wallace Hartley: Bandmaster of the Titan
The Legend of the Titantic bandleader Wallace Hartley
- Violin played as Titanic sank sells for $1.7 million - CNN.com
Story from CNN
What do you think of the brave musicians of the Titanic?
If you have no thoughts about that, then please stay long enough to say hello, OK?