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Titanic's Band

Aboard Titanic to entertain first and second class passengers White Star Line provided bands or string orchestras in total consisting of eight musicians.

Titanic's eight musicians actually made up two bands aboard the ship, one consisting of five musicians, providing the general musical entertainment for first and second class passengers, while another made up of three musicians played within the reception room on the B Deck landing of the first class aft grand staircase, adjacent to the À la Carte Restaurant and Café Parisien.

The group of five, led by Wallace Hartley, performed for the second class passengers besides the piano located on the C Deck landing of the aft second class staircase, adjacent to the second class library. In first class they played beside the piano located on the port side of the Boat Deck landing of the forward grand staircase, and also at the piano on the starboard side of the reception room on the D Deck landing of the same staircase, which was positioned next to the dining room.

Of the eight musicians aboard Titanic it is generally listed that three played violin, three played cello, one played a double bass and one played a piano.

The musicians were not really considered to be part of the Titanic's crew but were instead officially carried aboard the ship as second class passengers. They were employed by an agency based in Liverpool named C.W. & F.N. Black which had been contracted by White Star Line to provide the ship with musicians. This was a new arrangement as not very long before White Star had employed their musicians directly.

As Titanic was sinking the musicians famously played music to the passengers. Wallace Hartley and his band members are known to have played on the Boat Deck as the lifeboats were being lowered. It is often stated that they ended up stationed outside on the port side, near to the entrance of the Boat Deck landing of the forward grand staircase; however, it could in the least be suggested that they remained just inside on the landing where not only would it have been warmer for them to play and probably very much lighter to read their music but also where they had a piano located.

It is sometimes said that the two usually separate bands aboard Titanic come together to play during the sinking, but this, while possible, is seemingly unclear; either way it is probable all the musicians played music at some point during the sinking; it is possible the band of three played separately for a time, perhaps in their usual position on B Deck.

The last song played by the musicians aboard Titanic is up to debate. The story often goes the hymn Nearer, My God, to Thee was the last played.

There are a number of memorials to Titanic's musicians, all of whom were lost in the disaster, perhaps the most notable being the marble memorial located in Southampton, UK dedicated to the "memory of the heroic musicians" and listing the names of each of them. The memorial there today is an exact replica of the original memorial unveiled in 1913; the original memorial was destroyed during the Second World War when Southampton Central Library, in which the original memorial was placed, was bombed and destroyed in an enemy air raid. The new memorial was unveiled in 1990.

Titanic’s musicians:

Wallace Hartley was born on 2nd June 1878 in Colne, Lancashire, UK. He went to sea as a musician in 1909 for the Cunard Line and served aboard both of Titanic's main rivals – firstly on Lusitania and then on Mauretania. With both Cunard and White Star having recently contracted the same agency to supply their musicians, Wallace was specially transferred from Mauretania to Titanic. At the time of the disaster he was a resident of Dewsbury, Yorkshire, UK, and was engaged to Maria Robinson. Aboard Titanic he played a violin.

William Theodore Brailey was born in Walthamstow, Essex (now London), UK on 25th October 1887. At a young age he joined the British Army as a musician. By the time he set sail aboard Titanic he was engaged to Teresa Steinhilber. Notably prior to joining Titanic he had served aboard Carpathia, the ship which rescued Titanic's survivors. On Titanic he played the piano.

Roger Bricoux was born on 1st June 1891 in France. Already, at a young age, an experienced musician, Roger went to sea to earn a living as a ship's musician. The ship he served on before Titanic was, like fellow Titanic band member William Theodore Brailey – RMS Carpathia. Aboard Titanic his instrument was a cello.

John Clarke was born on 28th July 1883 in Manchester, UK. By 1912 he had long been a resident of Liverpool, UK. Aboard Titanic he played a double bass.

John "Jock" Hume was born in Dumfries, Scotland, UK on 9th August 1890. Prior to boarding Titanic, he is said to have completed a number of other voyages aboard ships. He was engaged to Mary Costin who was also a resident of Dumfries. Aboard Titanic he played a violin.

Georges Krins was born on 18th March 1889 in Paris, France, but spent most of his life living in Belgium. At the time he boarded Titanic he was a resident of London and it is said that he had previously played music at the Ritz Hotel, today one of the most well-known hotels in London. His instrument aboard Titanic was a violin.

John Wesley Woodward was born on 11th September 1871 in West Bromwich, Staffordshire (now West Midlands), UK. He had previously served as a musician aboard Titanic's sister ship Olympic and was aboard her when the Royal Navy cruiser HMS Hawke crashed into the side of Olympic near Southampton on 20th September 1911, delaying Titanic's maiden voyage due to Olympic needing to be repaired. Prior to serving on Titanic he had been aboard Cunard Line's Caronia, which recently had been engaged in her annual winter cruises to the Mediterranean. Abroad Titanic he played a cello.

Percy Cornelius Taylor was born 20th March 1872 in London, UK. He was married in 1906 to Clara Davis. He is stated to have played a cello aboard Titanic, though he was wrongly reported in newspapers in 1912 to have played the piano aboard.

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