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The Band that Played On
Cover of The Band that Played On
The Band that Played On
The Extraordinary Story of the 8 Musicians Who Went Down with the Titanic
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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.

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.

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  • Library Journal

    March 15, 2011

    The story of the ship's band playing cheerful music to calm passengers as the Titanic sank seized the public's imagination from the earliest reports, and the musicians became instant legends, lauded for their bravery. They were hired through an agency and were technically second-class passengers, not employees of the shipping line, despite their shipboard duties. All eight men died, and survivors claimed that they heard music playing until the very end. The historical record on their personal lives is thin, but Turner (An Illustrated History of Gospel) clearly did extensive research and presents plausible scenarios when required to speculate. He offers a picture of the lives of these particular musicians, along with much information on the work of professional musicians generally in the early 20th century. He even takes on the 99-year-old debate about the last song played. Especially poignant are the stories about the surviving dependants of the band members and their difficulties with legal claims and retrieving personal effects. VERDICT Titanic completists will certainly want this book, which should also appeal to those interested in the perspective on music history.--Megan Hahn Fraser, Univ. of California-Los Angeles Lib.

    Copyright 2011 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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The Band that Played On
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The Extraordinary Story of the 8 Musicians Who Went Down with the Titanic
Steve Turner
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