When Titanic collided with an iceberg at 23:40 on April 14th, the eight members of the band had already retired for the evening. Still, they put on overcoats and mufflers came out to play in the lounge. When most of the First Class passengers had taken to their lifeboats, the musicians simply moved to the deck and continued to play, calming the passengers as the ship sank. One second class passenger said: "Many brave things were done that night, but none were more brave than those done by men playing minute after minute as the ship settled quietly lower and lower in the sea. The music they played served alike as their own immortal requiem and their right to be recalled on the scrolls of undying fame." Survivors’ accounts differ about whether their final tune was "L’Automme" or "Nearer My God To Thee." What has never been disputed is the courage of these musicians who deliberately sacrificed the possibility of escape in order to produce a mood of tranquillity at a time of extreme anxiety. But who were they? What journeys brought them to this deck on this icy ocean? Had any of them previously displayed signs of great courage? Who did they leave behind? Historian and biographer Steve Turner delves into the lives of these brave men, revealing eight unique portraits of bravery.
Everyone knows the story of the Titanic sinking. The tale has been told in several movies and countless books. However, there is one aspect of the story that has not been told, that of the musicians who chose to play as the ship sank.
The book starts out recounting the tale of that fateful night that the ship sank. There were a few details in there that I hadn’t known about. I guess that was because most of what I knew was from the movies.
For instance, did you know that the reason for the media black out was not because they were afraid for public panic. It was because The New York Times had struck a deal with Mr. Marconi in order to get an inside scoop. This media black out even prevented President Taft from finding out if his military aide, Major Archibald Butt, had even survived.
However, the most interesting part was learning about the humble beginnings of these men. Before reading this book, I had no clue that it was actually two different bands that had ended up playing together on that fateful day. The ship had commissioned two bands. One band had five musicians and the other band had three. So there were a total of eight musicians.
There were interconnections between the eight musicians, but before that night, they had never all come together to play as a group.
I found out that one of them actually lived not too far from my great grandfather in Burnley, England. I doubt that they would have known each other since they were from different backgrounds. But it was just interesting to read about a life and time from when some of my family were.
This book was extremely riveting. Those men’s lives were ripped away from them when they were just starting to really live them.