Titanic’s Band of Courage
One of the most enduring and poignant stories of Titanic is that of musicians Wallace Hartley, John Clarke, Percy Taylor, Georges Krins, Theodore Brailey – the quintet - and John Hume, Roger Bricoux, and John Woodward – the trio. The quintet typically played in the first and second class reception halls at lunch and dinner, while the trio played outside the á la carte restaurant for first class passengers. Although each had a different reason for accepting the contract to serve on Titanic, all hoped to increase their fortune with passenger tips.
To qualify for this job, all had to be excellent musicians with the capability of playing every song in the White Star Line Song Book – some 300 tunes ranging from ragtime to classical to hymns. They also had to be polite and engaging to appeal to their clientele.
And yet when they realized their horrible fate, all eight joined together to play – something they never did – to offer comfort to passengers and crew. John ‘Jock’ Hume, with irrepressible spirit, is reported to have said to Violet Jessop whom he passed on the stairs: ‘Just going to give them a tune to cheer things up a bit!’
This year in co-operation with TH Entertainment, LLC , Premier Exhibitions, Inc. produced Titanic: Band of Courage, a salute to these brave men who played until the end. Through interviews with Titanic experts, family members, and letters, viewers can get a better sense of who these heroes were and see images of a recovered violin attributed to Wallace Hartley. In the background are the strains of their music played in the 1912 style. And whether or not “Nearer My God to Thee: was the last song on Titanic, the two renditions unite the viewer as never before to this Band of Courage.
As Lawrence Beesley, a second-class survivor, later wrote:
“Many brave things were done that night, but no more brave than by those few men playing minute after minute as the ship settled quietly lower and lower in the sea…”
Titanic: Band of Courage (DVD) and CD of just the music are available from Amazon, iTunes, and other sites. Visit the Titanic Store for other mementos of Titanic’s legacy. http://www.thetitanicstore.com/