Thursday, 26 July 2012

Titanic's bandsmen as documented by survivors

Those who traveled in Titanic’s First Class saw the bandsmen only in a professional capacity, while performing in a particular place at a particular time. Most accounts from First Class passengers mentioned the band in a general sort of way. Helen Churchill Candee’s account described the listening audience more than the bandsmen themselves.

But as the bandsmen travelled in Second Class, their fellow passengers in that area of the ship were much more likely to bump into them between sets when they weren’t working: in corridors, on the ship’s deck, possibly even at mealtime. Their memories reflected this close proximity to the musicians. While Juliette Laroche described a performance in Second Class, Lawrence Beesley described seeing a bandsman running to a performance, and Kate Buss and Bertha Lehmann each had opportunity to speak with musicians on a more personal level.

Even closer than Second Class passengers were members of the crew. One survivor, First Class stewardesses Violet Jessop, knew Jock Hume personally. The two had sailed together the year before, on Olympic’s maiden voyage. As crew, she was even able to call him by name.

In the wake of discussing Titanic’s bands, the musicians and their instruments (as well as who played in which band), here is a quick reference for enthusiasts and lay researchers on how the bandsmen were remembered by Titanic’s survivors. This is a compilation of quotations from personal letters, memoires, and books published on the subject of the sinking of the Titanic.

Although the bandsmen were not identified by name by most who recorded the memories, identities have been recovered through deduction. When a particular passage is included beneath a bandsman’s name it is because he was mentioned in it, sometimes in detail. In most of the quotations a bandsman was identified by the instrument he played.


TITANIC’S TRIO
Titanic’s saloon orchestra, or trio, played only in First Class, in the Reception Room outside the à la carte Restaurant and Cafe Parisien. Referred to as the ‘luxurious saloon after deck’ by May Futrelle, this was the trio’s one and only performance venue. As there was no piano in this location on the ship, three string players filled the positions of this ensemble, led by Jock Hume, first violin and bandleader.


JOHN LAW (JOCK) HUME, bandleader, first violin


Violet Jessop, memoires edited by John Maxtone-Graham, pub. 1997:
“On that Sunday evening, the music was at its gayest, led by young Jock the first violin; when I ran into him during the interval, he laughingly called out to me in his rich Scotch accent, that he was about to give them a ‘real tune, a Scotch tune, to finish up with.’ Always so eager and full of life was Jock.”

Violet Jessop, memoires edited by John Maxtone-Graham, pub. 1997:
“As I turned I ran into Jock, the bandleader and his crowd with their instruments. ‘Funny, they must be going to play,’ thought I, and at this late hour! Jock smiled in passing, looking rather pale for him, remarking, ‘Just going to give them a tune to cheer things up a bit,’ and passed on. Presently the strains of the band reached me faintly as I stood on deck….”

Kate Gold, stewardess, 1912:
“When we left the ship men were sitting on A deck, smoking cigarettes and tapping time with their feet to the music of the band. These passengers and the bandsmen, too, had their lifebelts beside them, and I was specially struck by a glimpse of a violinist playing steadily with a great lifebelt in front of him. The music was ragtime just then.”


GEORGES KRINS, second violon


There are currently no known accounts that focus on violinist Georges Krins.


ROGER BRICOUX, cello


Bertha Lehmann, Brainerd Daily Dispatch, December 2, 1937:
“I dressed and went up on deck. I saw a French musician that I had met talking to another lady. She went away and then I asked him what was wrong. He just told me that we would have to go on another boat to get to New York and that I should go down and get my coat. I went and when I came back he put a life belt on me and took me to another deck. He said to a couple of officers that here was another lady.”


TITANIC’S QUINTET
Titanic’s deck band, or quintet, gave six performances daily, alternating between Second and First Classes. They gave three concerts daily in the Second Class Entrance Foyer on C Deck, one in the First Class Entrance Hall at the Boat Deck level of the Grand Staircase, and two more in the Reception Room outside the First Class Dining Saloon on D Deck.


WALLACE HARTLEY, bandleader, violin


Helen Churchill Candee, Collier's Weekly, on May 4, 1912:
"...after dinner there was coffee served to all at little tables around the great general lounging place, for here the orchestra played. Some said it was poor on its Wagner work, others said the violin was weak. But that was for conversation's sake, for nothing on board, was more popular than the orchestra.”

Juliette Laroche, On board RMS Titanic, April 11, 1912:
“I am writing you in the reading room and there is a concert next to me: a violin, two cellos [and] a piano.”


PERCY TAYLOR, viola(?)


There are currently no known accounts that focus on Titanic musician Percy Taylor, now believed to have been a violist.


JOHN WESLEY (WES) WOODWARD, cello


Juliette Laroche, On board RMS Titanic, April 11, 1912:
“I am writing you in the reading room and there is a concert next to me: a violin, two cellos [and] a piano.”

Kate Buss, On board RMS Titanic, April 11, 1912:
“We have three promenade decks, one above the other. Each one has a sort of hall lounge and on the one above my cabin the band plays every afternoon and evening. The ’cello man is a favorite of mine, every time he finishes a piece he looks at me and we smile.”

Kate Buss, On board RMS Titanic, April 12, 1912:
“Saw Doctor just after dinner, and reminded him of his promise to ask our ’cello man to play a solo. Says he would if I’d go to Kentucky. He waited for us, and we took our seats on the stairs. Too late to arrange, so going to ask for it tomorrow. ’Cello man quite nice. Very superior bandsman, and he always smiles his parting to us.”

Kate Buss, On board RMS Titanic, April 13, 1912:
“Arranged to meet the Doctor and go and hear the band. Couldn’t get near to ask our ’cello man for solo. […] After luncheon we went with a French lady to hear her sing. We had previously met the ’cello man and asked if he would play a solo. He is quite gentlemanly. He agreed, and we chatted, amongst other things about the Olympic. He was on her when the accident happened. She was struck just where their berths were, and he said that had they been in there, they must have been killed. We have the Olympic captain on board.”

Lawrence Beesley, The Loss of the S. S. Titanic, June, 1912:
"Soon after the men had left the starboard side, I saw a bandsman--the ’cellist--come round the vestibule corner from the staircase entrance and run down the now deserted starboard deck, his ’cello trailing behind him, the spike dragging along the floor. This must have been about 12.40 a. m. I suppose the band must have begun to play soon after this and gone on until after 2 a. m. Many brave things were done that night, but none more brave than by those few men playing minute after minute as the ship settled quietly lower and lower in the sea and the sea rose higher and higher to where they stood; the music they played serving alike as their own immortal requiem and their right to be recorded on the rolls of undying fame."

Kate Buss, On board Carpathia, April 16, 1912:
“The musicians were such nice men. I asked one night for a ’cello solo, and got it at once.”


J. F. P. (FRED) CLARKE, double bass


Juliette Laroche, On board RMS Titanic, April 11, 1912:
“I am writing you in the reading room and there is a concert next to me: a violin, two cellos [and] a piano.”
[It is believed that one of the two cellos mentioned was really the double bass.]


THEODORE (THEO) BRAILEY, piano


Juliette Laroche, On board RMS Titanic, April 11, 1912:
“I am writing you in the reading room and there is a concert next to me: a violin, two cellos [and] a piano.”

Kate Buss, On Board Carpathia, April 16, 1912:
“That night the pianist had asked me if I would mind taking round the subscription, as I had appreciated the music. At supper I talked Mr. N. and Dr. P. into promising to do it for me, and as a joke the former rehearsed a possible speech, and then said ‘Meet me on the upper deck at six in the morning. I will talk it over.’ I saw the pianist as I was going to bed, and promised. That is the last that I saw of them.”
___

Related Posts on Titanic's trio
Which musicians played in Titanic's trio?
Who was bandleader of Titanic's trio?
Was Wallace Hartley Titanic's only bandmaster?

Related Posts on Titanic's quintet
Titanic's quintet: Wallace Hartley, violin and bandleader
Titanic's quintet: Which part did Taylor play?
Titanic's quintet: Who was the cellist?
Titanic's quintet: J. F. P. Clarke, contra basso
Titanic's quintet: Who was the pianist?



Sources













Jessop, V. (1997). Titanic Survivor, Dobbs Ferry, NY: Sheridan House, 1997. pp. 124, 129.











On Board RMS Titanic , George M. Behe

11 comments:

  1. So did we have to wait one hundred years to correctly recognize the bandsmen with their instruments and ensembles? Oh my...

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    1. I don't know... I haven't seen any sources that have convinced me so far, so this might be the first time it has been sorted out. The evidence has always been there.

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  2. 3 weeks without any new note on the blog? My life won't be the same again.

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    1. Sorry, I thought I had answered this earlier! :-)

      There may be more coming at a future date, but the articles posted so far form the lion's share of my thoughts on Titanic's music. If any readers have questions about Titanic's music, post them and we'll ponder and try to figure them out.
      Rebekah

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  3. Hi Rebekah, just wondering, was Star Spangled Banner in the WSL songbook? Thanks!

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    1. Hi, Band Lover,
      National anthems were not listed individually by name, but were implied under a general heading. I imagine the Star Spangled Banner was one the musicians had available in sheets for performance, if requested by passengers.

      The request book version I have lists

      Suites, Fantasias, etc. (81 - 99)

      National Anthems, Hymns &c., of all Nations (unlisted numbers)

      Waltzes (100 - 148)

      So you see the last suite was number 99 and the first waltz was number 100, so the national anthems and hymns were between, but not listed by name or number. Perhaps it was assumed that the general public was so familiar with this music that they didn't need them listed in the booklet.

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  4. Hello Rebekah,

    I've a quick question. I'm not terribly familiar with how this worked but how were the bandsmen chosen? And do we know the identities of any other men who would have been possibly considered for the Titanic's band? For instance does the name Henry Moody or Henry Crout sound familiar? I believe he played the clarinet. I could be mistaken but I didn't think this was an instrument any of the Titanic musicians played. Any help would be much appreciated.

    Regards,
    J. G.

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    1. J,
      I'll look into your question in greater depth. It would seem as though Titanic sailed when the music agency industry was in its infancy. C. W. & F. N. Black, brothers, took over control of providing sheet music and musicians to ocean liners in early 1912. It is possible that they found musicians in one of two ways, both by scouring the countryside for candidates or being approached directly by musicians for auditions. Any musician would have been heard prior to hiring. By that I mean the Black brothers would have heard them either in concert with an existing ensemble or in a scheduled audition.

      Although Titanic's bandsmen have been revered as the best musicians on the Atlantic, it is possible only some of them were the "best" and that others were simply available for the gig. For example, so little is known about Percy Taylor that his instrument is even in question. He was not a noted musician. It should also be qualified that the musicians were the best that could be found for an ocean-going gig, but that there were superior concert musicians on every instrument on both the European and North American continents, who did not aspire to be travelling musicians. The thing that set Titanic's musicians apart was not necessarily their musical prowess, but the fact that they continued to play music even in the face of death.

      It should be noted that of the two ensembles, it was the Trio with Hume, Krins and Bricoux, that set the highest musical standard on board. They were the best educated or most experienced musicians. The quintet led by Hartley was weaker by passenger accounts, the violin (Hartley) being called "weak" by listeners, and the cello (Woodward) being called a "superior bandsmen" by Kate Buss. From what is known about the education of the quintet's musicians, Woodward had had the best teaching of the five,having earned certificates from a noted conservatory, which was evident from his playing skill.

      To answer your question on other musicians who were considered, please visit my post called "Titanic's musicians and pianos in place" http://titanicpiano.blogspot.ca/2012/03/by-mid-march-1912-plans-for-titanic-s.html

      Thanks for your questions!

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  5. Thank you so very much, Rebekah. This is a tremendous help. I'm going to look into this Ellwand Moody fellow also and see if he provides any leads. And also to see if he is some distant relation to 6th Officer James Moody, they came from the same neck of the woods! Thank again for taking time to answer my questions, appreciate it.

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    1. Ver interesting! I would be fascinated to know what you discover!

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    2. Will be sure to come back and let you know if/when anything turns up! :)

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