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The Band That Played On: The Extraordinary Story of the 8 Musicians Who Went Down with the Titanic

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The movies, the documentaries, the museum exhibits. They often tell the same story about the "unsinkable" "Titanic," her wealthy passengers, the families torn apart, and the unthinkable end. But never before has "that glorious band"--the group of eight musicians who played on as the "Titanic" slipped deeper and deeper into the Atlantic Ocean--been explored in such depth. S The movies, the documentaries, the museum exhibits. They often tell the same story about the "unsinkable" "Titanic," her wealthy passengers, the families torn apart, and the unthinkable end. But never before has "that glorious band"--the group of eight musicians who played on as the "Titanic" slipped deeper and deeper into the Atlantic Ocean--been explored in such depth. Steve Turner's extensive research reveals a fascinating story including dishonest agents, a clairvoyant, social climbers, and a fraudulent violin maker. Read what brought the band members together and how their music served as the haunting soundtrack for one of modern history's most tragic maritime disasters.


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The movies, the documentaries, the museum exhibits. They often tell the same story about the "unsinkable" "Titanic," her wealthy passengers, the families torn apart, and the unthinkable end. But never before has "that glorious band"--the group of eight musicians who played on as the "Titanic" slipped deeper and deeper into the Atlantic Ocean--been explored in such depth. S The movies, the documentaries, the museum exhibits. They often tell the same story about the "unsinkable" "Titanic," her wealthy passengers, the families torn apart, and the unthinkable end. But never before has "that glorious band"--the group of eight musicians who played on as the "Titanic" slipped deeper and deeper into the Atlantic Ocean--been explored in such depth. Steve Turner's extensive research reveals a fascinating story including dishonest agents, a clairvoyant, social climbers, and a fraudulent violin maker. Read what brought the band members together and how their music served as the haunting soundtrack for one of modern history's most tragic maritime disasters.

30 review for The Band That Played On: The Extraordinary Story of the 8 Musicians Who Went Down with the Titanic

  1. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Almost everyone, with any awareness of the story of the Titanic, have heard about the band that played on while the ship was going down. It is a story enshrined with heroism and self sacrifice. However, very little is known about the men themselves and I doubt many, but real Titanic enthusiasts, could name the musicians. Steve Turner does a wonderful job of bringing these men vividly to life: Wallace Hartley, Percy Taylor, Wes Woodward, Fred Clarke, Roger Bricoux, Theo Brailey, Georges Krins and Almost everyone, with any awareness of the story of the Titanic, have heard about the band that played on while the ship was going down. It is a story enshrined with heroism and self sacrifice. However, very little is known about the men themselves and I doubt many, but real Titanic enthusiasts, could name the musicians. Steve Turner does a wonderful job of bringing these men vividly to life: Wallace Hartley, Percy Taylor, Wes Woodward, Fred Clarke, Roger Bricoux, Theo Brailey, Georges Krins and John Law (Jock) Hume. In fact, there was not one band on the Titanic, but two - a three piece and a five piece band. They were booked through C W & F N Black, in Liverpool and, although some members knew each other, they had not all played together before. The fact the musicians were booked through the Black’s was an important point, as they hired and sourced musicians for cruise ships and it meant that the members were not covered by insurance as they were not employees of the shipping line, nor were they covered by the Workmen’s Compensation Act. It also meant that they were not obliged to play as the ship was sinking, as they were not ship’s crew; although opinions differ as to whether they were asked to play to maintain discipline and avert panic, or whether they simply expected that they should do so. After the Titanic disaster, the musicians and their bravery and sacrifice, was a perfect media package. They were ordinary men, but showed outstanding courage and they were widely said to have been playing the hymn "Nearer, My God, To Thee" as the ship went down, giving a signature tune to memorial services around the world. There was dissent to this vision of sacrifice, most notably from H G Wells and Joseph Conrad, who both asserted that the sacrifice should have been unnecessary if proper safeguards had been in place. Wells also suggested that the music had caused lower class passengers to believe all was well, allowing first class passengers to escape the sinking ship. It was a fact that while 62% of first class passengers were saved, only 25% from third class were rescued and only 23% of the crew. This class division extended to the bodies being collected, when first class passengers were put into coffins, while lower class passengers were sewn into canvas sacks, or even thrown overboard if there was no identification. There was great anger about this, understandably, especially as only 712 of the possible 1,084 spaces in the lifeboats were used. Regardless of these events, the musicians could only do what they could and that was to play. They were all young men, only one married, but three expecting to marry in the near future. Wallace Hartley, the band leader, was a devout Methodist and he believed strongly in his faith and in music as a source of healing, which influenced moods. Under his guidance, the band played to the end and Wallace strapped his violin to his chest before being plunged into the sea. After their death, the musicians families had great trouble receiving compensation - the father of Andrew Hume was even sent a bill for his sons uniform alterations. This book looks at the lives of every member of the two Titanic bands and relates their stories. At the time of the disaster, the band were regarded as heroes and there were several memorial services and plaques put up in their memory. However, within two years, World War I began and a whole new era of sacrifice and loss began, devastating whole communities. With loss of that scope, it was not that the victims of the Titanic were forgotten, but that new concerns took over the country. This is an extremely interesting read and anyone who wants to know more about these brave men will surely find it inspiring. For anyone with any interest in the Titanic, it is a must read. I read the kindle edition of this book and the illustrations were included. Highly recommended.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Cammie

    How sad and ironic that the eight musicians on the Titanic are famous for their deaths but not their lives even though they were clearly skilled, accomplished musicians. I remember being intrigued by this book when I downloaded it four years ago but expected more narrative in this work of nonfiction. I was not overly engaged with the early chapters detailing the lives of these musicians, but I guess since their own words could not be used expect letters that makes sense. It took me way longer than How sad and ironic that the eight musicians on the Titanic are famous for their deaths but not their lives even though they were clearly skilled, accomplished musicians. I remember being intrigued by this book when I downloaded it four years ago but expected more narrative in this work of nonfiction. I was not overly engaged with the early chapters detailing the lives of these musicians, but I guess since their own words could not be used expect letters that makes sense. It took me way longer than normal to read this because I always reached for another book or activity over reading it. In fact, at one point, my Kindle returned to the beginning and I started reading the first chapter again without even realizing I had done so until I noticed the percentage in the corner and knew I was way father into the book that that. Though not the wealthiest nor the most well known, the musicians who went down with the ship were to become the most celebrate men to sail on the Titanic. They maintained a low profile--they were to be listened to, not watched, anonymous. If they played badly, it would be noted, but if they played well, it would be accepted as something first-class passengers deserved. So at a time of great need a tragedy, these eight musicians used music to bring order to chaos, playing music for the dying until they themselves died.

  3. 4 out of 5

    LibraryCin

    3.25 stars This book tells the biographies of the eight musicians on the Titanic. They were split into two groups on board, playing in different areas of the ship, but it seems that they joined together to play on deck as the ship sank. I usually like biographies, but this one had eight. That’s a lot, and it was a small amount of information on each one, so as we continued on in the book, it was easy to forget who was who. It was more interesting once they boarded the ship to read about that. Muc 3.25 stars This book tells the biographies of the eight musicians on the Titanic. They were split into two groups on board, playing in different areas of the ship, but it seems that they joined together to play on deck as the ship sank. I usually like biographies, but this one had eight. That’s a lot, and it was a small amount of information on each one, so as we continued on in the book, it was easy to forget who was who. It was more interesting once they boarded the ship to read about that. Much is speculation, including what songs were played, but that part was still more interesting to me. The book continued on after they died with some information on their families, regaining any items found (though only three of the musicians’ bodies were recovered), and stories of (in one case) the father not acknowledging an illegitimate child (and therefore any compensation money should come to him, not to his son’s girlfriend and child); I can’t remember now if it was the same family (I think it was), but a sister who was mentally unstable and played a nasty “joke” on the rest of her family (that was one I believe I’d already heard about). Overall, I’m rating it between ok (the biographies) and good (the disaster and aftermath).

  4. 4 out of 5

    Vicki

    I know that when the Titanic tragedy occurred things were quite different, but I had no idea how different. Some of the things that happened as a result of the sinking of the ship were despicable. Most people know of the Titanic and many have seen the movie. The sad tragedy was clearly depicted in the movie, but many people don't realize that there were musicians on that ship that were heroes in their own right: W. Hartley, J.L. Hume, R. Bricoux, W.T. Brailey, C. Krins, J. Woodward, J.F. Clarke, I know that when the Titanic tragedy occurred things were quite different, but I had no idea how different. Some of the things that happened as a result of the sinking of the ship were despicable. Most people know of the Titanic and many have seen the movie. The sad tragedy was clearly depicted in the movie, but many people don't realize that there were musicians on that ship that were heroes in their own right: W. Hartley, J.L. Hume, R. Bricoux, W.T. Brailey, C. Krins, J. Woodward, J.F. Clarke, and P.C. Taylor. After reading this book about these brave men, I'd say they're unsung heroes. They all continued to play their music so that it would people on the ship to remain calm. The saying is that the captain goes down with his ship. Yes, he did, but so did these men. Surely they were scared too, but they wanted to help others through the tragic event. There were some rather interesting stories as for why the different men ended aboard the ship playing music, how they got there, and where their family is now (at the time of the publishing) and it was so well written.

  5. 4 out of 5

    SenoraG

    I have read a lot about the Titanic but this is the first book that I've read devoted to the musicians. W. Hartley, C. Krins, R. Bricoux, W.T. Brailey, J. Woodward, J.F. Clarke, J.L. Hume, P.C. Taylor I learned some things that shocked me. Families actually had to pay to get their family member back. If they were lucky enough to be found and identified! Families had to pay for embalming and transportation of the body home. Since the Titanic did not finish it's voyage, full pay was not sent, deduc I have read a lot about the Titanic but this is the first book that I've read devoted to the musicians. W. Hartley, C. Krins, R. Bricoux, W.T. Brailey, J. Woodward, J.F. Clarke, J.L. Hume, P.C. Taylor I learned some things that shocked me. Families actually had to pay to get their family member back. If they were lucky enough to be found and identified! Families had to pay for embalming and transportation of the body home. Since the Titanic did not finish it's voyage, full pay was not sent, deductions were made for the remaining days. This is sickening. We learn about each member if the band, their background, the way they wound up onboard and where their families are today. Did they play voluntarily or was it under the order of their band leader or the captain? That is a question that will never be answered. Did they really play Nearer My God to thee as so many reported? My question.....does it really matter? Tor me, regardless of the what's and whys, these men gave their lives while trying to help others. Their playing of music no matter what kind or what songs, helped people to feel calmer in the midst of chaos. They, like the captain,went down with the ship. Only three of their bodies were recovered. They are heros. I especially liked the photos. They tell their own story about the people and places in them. The book was well researched and includes lots of interesting trivia. Recommended for any one who has an interest in the Titanic.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Desiree

    This was an interesting and very detailed read. The book starts by giving a biography of each of the 8 musicians and I have to admit that by the fifth or sixth I was having a hard time keeping track. It definitely slowed my reading down, mid-book. The most eye opening thing to me in reading about their lives growing up was how the world looked when being a musician was considered a viable career option. To hear about a time when professional musicians were in demand and every establishment had t This was an interesting and very detailed read. The book starts by giving a biography of each of the 8 musicians and I have to admit that by the fifth or sixth I was having a hard time keeping track. It definitely slowed my reading down, mid-book. The most eye opening thing to me in reading about their lives growing up was how the world looked when being a musician was considered a viable career option. To hear about a time when professional musicians were in demand and every establishment had their own band for entertainment. And from the descriptions, the eight that were aboard Titanic were world class. The second half of the book focused on the event of the Titanic and the legacy left behind by these men. Being a musician myself I always wondered what would make these men choose to keep playing as the ship was sinking(myself thinking that I would have packed up and ran for a boat, protocol be damned.) After reading the account, however, the music therapist in me understands the sense of responsibility that comes from having a skill in creating something as powerful as music and in using it to provide peace and comfort to others.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kirsti

    When I spotted this in the window of a second hand bookstore I knew I wanted it, but I always hesitate with a store I don't go into much; what would the prices be like? How pleasantly surprised I was to find it was priced reasonably at $9.50! Sold! I admit to being a Titanic nut. I read every book I can find, and I've had this on my recommendation list for a while, although I never bothered marking it as to-read. I found it well researched, surprisingly free of opinion and bias. There was plenty When I spotted this in the window of a second hand bookstore I knew I wanted it, but I always hesitate with a store I don't go into much; what would the prices be like? How pleasantly surprised I was to find it was priced reasonably at $9.50! Sold! I admit to being a Titanic nut. I read every book I can find, and I've had this on my recommendation list for a while, although I never bothered marking it as to-read. I found it well researched, surprisingly free of opinion and bias. There was plenty of information, whether it be about the men themselves or the family they left behind. There was plenty of supporting evidence and a source at the back of the book. All in all this is a fantastic addition to any Titanic nut's collection. Hopefully if you're after a copy of this book it will fall into your hands like it did with mine! Four stars.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    I don't think it was the best-written book I've ever read, and the material the author had to work with was pretty skimpy, but I found it fascinating. The 8 musicians who went down with the Titanic were just normal working musicians, not famous artists, so the details of their lives were quite basic. They would have been complete unknowns to the world at large if they hadn't died playing while the ship went down. Still, Turner managed to make the limited material into an interesting book. As a m I don't think it was the best-written book I've ever read, and the material the author had to work with was pretty skimpy, but I found it fascinating. The 8 musicians who went down with the Titanic were just normal working musicians, not famous artists, so the details of their lives were quite basic. They would have been complete unknowns to the world at large if they hadn't died playing while the ship went down. Still, Turner managed to make the limited material into an interesting book. As a musician myself, I find it quite inspiring to think of these men playing to calm their fellow shipmates and to ease their own way to death.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tarissa

    An in-depth look at the lives of the 8 hired musicians on board Titanic when it sank. Never before has so much information been collected in one volume concerning these 8 men -- the most well-known of them being Wallace Hartley, the bandleader. "They were famous for their deaths, not their lives" (The Band That Played On", page 16). They were simple men, just striving to make a living while playing their favorite instruments. And yet, over the course of the next two years following the maritime d An in-depth look at the lives of the 8 hired musicians on board Titanic when it sank. Never before has so much information been collected in one volume concerning these 8 men -- the most well-known of them being Wallace Hartley, the bandleader. "They were famous for their deaths, not their lives" (The Band That Played On", page 16). They were simple men, just striving to make a living while playing their favorite instruments. And yet, over the course of the next two years following the maritime disaster, 9 or more memorials were erected in their honor. So many differences and similarities are found between these 8 men. Some had experience with playing on ocean liners before, but for some, the Titanic was their first and last. Most left a sweetheart behind, whether wife or fiancee, and would never return home. It was interesting to note how the lives of the 8 intertwined, some even knowing each other before embarking on Titanic's fatal voyage. I also liked how the author included many religious notes concerning the musicians' lives and their families. I felt that you could even understand each man's personality a little better by knowing his religious background and how involved he was in church activities. This book is a treasure. Music and maritime enthusiasts alike will find interest in the fascinating stories behind Wallace Hartley, John Wesley Woodard, Percy Cornelius Taylor, George Krins, Roger Bricoux, William Theodore Brailey, John Law Hume, and John Frederick Preston Clarke.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    This was a fascinating book about the 8 musicians who played onboard the Titanic. While most of us have seen the movie and/or read books about the ill-fated cruise, very little has been written about the eight men who played on until the very end. The book takes us through each of their upbringing, how they became interested in music, their goals and aspirations. The book also gives us a behind the scenes look at the world of musicians in the early 1900s, life on a cruise ship for the musicians, This was a fascinating book about the 8 musicians who played onboard the Titanic. While most of us have seen the movie and/or read books about the ill-fated cruise, very little has been written about the eight men who played on until the very end. The book takes us through each of their upbringing, how they became interested in music, their goals and aspirations. The book also gives us a behind the scenes look at the world of musicians in the early 1900s, life on a cruise ship for the musicians, and events that preceded the launching of the Titanic which ultimately led to its doom. I learned that the Titanic's sister ship, the Olympic, was involved in a collision with a naval ship before the Titanic was launched. In need of a propeller, the Olympic was given the one from the Titanic, thus delaying the launch of the Titanic. Had the delay not taken place, would the Titanic have been in a field of ice that ripped into its side? We will never know. I learned that many of the passengers were originally scheduled to sail on the Olympic, but after a coal strike ended, coal was needed for both ships, and a decision was made to allocate it to the Titanic; thus, many of the Olympic's passengers were transferred to the Titanic. A decision that sealed the fate for many of the them. And, I learned that the musicians were not actually employees of The White Star Line, but they were hired through an agent. Therefore, they were treated not as employees but as passengers in some respect-meaning, they had no obligation to stay with the ship as it was sinking. A decision was made (perhaps by the band leader), to stay and play, providing music that might help keep the passengers calm. Not being employees of the ship line, however, also meant they (or their families) were not entitled to any form of worker's compensation or remuneration when they lost their lives. A very interesting story of the lives of musicians on that ill-fated ship.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Gia

    “In articulo mortis (At the moment of death) Caelitus mihi vires (My strength is from heaven) Deo adjuvante non timendum (God helps, nothing should be feared) In perpetuum (For ever).” ‘Nearer, My God, to Thee,’ Sarah Flower Adams

  12. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth B

    Focusing on the band from the Titanic, this book is a fresh look at that ill-fated voyage. Most people will recall the band from the movie playing as the ship went down and this book delves into those men – who they were, where they came from and the characteristics that made them choose to continue to play. The research on the men is impeccable and even for serious Titanic readers (I admit I am not one of these) I believe you will find something new that you didn’t know before. Outside of the T Focusing on the band from the Titanic, this book is a fresh look at that ill-fated voyage. Most people will recall the band from the movie playing as the ship went down and this book delves into those men – who they were, where they came from and the characteristics that made them choose to continue to play. The research on the men is impeccable and even for serious Titanic readers (I admit I am not one of these) I believe you will find something new that you didn’t know before. Outside of the Titanic sphere, it is a story of men from different walks of life and how they came together and then were faced with extraordinary circumstances. I think it has something for even the mild Titanic enthusiast as well as those who are just interested in historical personalities and even music aficionados will get a rare glimpse into the lives of one of history’s most famous bands. The bit of bad: the text needs tightening up. Often, it seemed to be filled with “filler” as it would ramble off giving details of someone’s wife or brother in law (not the band members family, mind you). For example, it details a band member’s working at a particular orchestra and then drops off into two paragraphs about the orchestra manager’s wife who was semi-famous. The band member never knew her, no indication he even knew her husband actually, but we’re given this information for no concrete reason since it has no bearing on, well, anything. The vignettes on each of the men tend to jump time wise quite a bit rather than have a linear flow which made it difficult to follow their individual lives as they moved closer to their performance on the ship. For example, you will read about something one did as a teen and then it will jump back to some childhood event like his first music lesson. Very hard to follow. With the exception of those two flaws, though, this was a delightful book to read. I learned about the men, more on Titanic and, perhaps most importantly, about how everyday common folks face and deal with such a monumental tragedy. (Galley proof)

  13. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    WOW!!! It has been a while since I have read a book that I didn't want to put down. The story of the 8 bandsman on the Titanic that played while the ship was sinking, working tirelessly to calm passengers during a very traumatic event was captivating. I have always been fascinated with the sinking of the Titanic, the lives of the people that were lost and those that survived. I have always heard about the men that continued to play as the ship sunk. Survivors even said they saw the water up to t WOW!!! It has been a while since I have read a book that I didn't want to put down. The story of the 8 bandsman on the Titanic that played while the ship was sinking, working tirelessly to calm passengers during a very traumatic event was captivating. I have always been fascinated with the sinking of the Titanic, the lives of the people that were lost and those that survived. I have always heard about the men that continued to play as the ship sunk. Survivors even said they saw the water up to their knees and the band played on. As they started to put the passengers on lifeboats, the band was playing upbeat songs. As the realization of the tragedy that was unfolding before them, they turned to playing hymns that would calm those that were watching from the lifeboats and those that embraced the unavoidable death that was surely to come. The band was last heard playing "Nearer my God to Thee". That song has become synonymous with the sinking of the Titanic. Learning about the lives of these men, how they became musicians, where they were playing, what drew them to the Titanic, and what happen to their families was very enlightening and sad. Many lives were changed by this tragic event, as happens with all tragic events of such magnitude. The bandleader put his violin into it's case, strapped it to his chest and died. He was found days later with the case still attached. The lifebelts were such that the violin was out of the water for the most part. It is said that the violin has been discovered, restored, and will be up for auction in the coming years. Hopefully a museum will purchase it or it will be kept with the other items from the Titanic as part of history not in someones private collection. If you like stories about the Titanic you will enjoy this one.

  14. 5 out of 5

    C.C. Thomas

    Just when you think you've read all the books on the Titanic, here come one with new information and a completely different slant. It is told from the viewpoint of a musical historian and focuses on one of the best loved myths surrounding the Titanic. It is a story of eight regular guys turned heroes. A story of working band members who took up their instruments in a moment of tragedy and panic to bolster the spirits of their fellow shipmates. And, they kept playing and playing. Even as the ship Just when you think you've read all the books on the Titanic, here come one with new information and a completely different slant. It is told from the viewpoint of a musical historian and focuses on one of the best loved myths surrounding the Titanic. It is a story of eight regular guys turned heroes. A story of working band members who took up their instruments in a moment of tragedy and panic to bolster the spirits of their fellow shipmates. And, they kept playing and playing. Even as the ship sank, even as the lights extinguished, even as the frozen waters claimed them. Their eternal contribution to the world is not just the haunting refrain of "Neared My God To Thee" but a reminder that music has a responsibility to those who hear it and those who play it. While there may be debate over the title of that last song and some particular details, this book settles the rumors once and for all. The myth is true. The author painstakingly researched every bit of detail possible, providing pictures and first-hand accounts of those not normally connected to the Titanic in such a way. I really liked the perspective of hearing from a musical historian. It forced me to look at the story in a different way, a way not familiar to me, being 'unmusical'. The author found tidbits of information and connected it to the story that made the tragedy so much more personal, more human, more like something that wasn't found in some dusty history book or museum but a story of people I might have known or been connected to. It is a look, simply, at the short lives of a group of men in a band who were nothing really remarkable but have become quite unforgettable.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    In "The Band that Played On" many questions are asked about the stories of the musicians who played and subsequently died as the result of the sinking of the Titanic. Who were these men? What do we know about their family histories? Did they voluntarily play music while the great ship sank? What songs did they play? What happened to the families that were left behind? This is what the author has set out to reveal in this thoroughly researched telling of this tragic event that shocked the world. B In "The Band that Played On" many questions are asked about the stories of the musicians who played and subsequently died as the result of the sinking of the Titanic. Who were these men? What do we know about their family histories? Did they voluntarily play music while the great ship sank? What songs did they play? What happened to the families that were left behind? This is what the author has set out to reveal in this thoroughly researched telling of this tragic event that shocked the world. Being one of thousands, if not millions, of those who have ever been fascinated with the story of Titanic, became my first interest in reading this book. I do not believe as many of the already written books, that one has explored an angle such as this. Although the book is extremely detailed, many of the chapters are about the whole history of the builders, creators, booking agents, the ship itself (and others of her time) and the sinking of the ship. Much of this I already had much knowledge of, and found it hard sometimes not too just skim over some of the pages to get to the stories of the musicians themselves. The details of these men, including what little photos still remain in existence today, was interesting. Overall, if you are looking for a heart wrenching tale of love loss, or an inspiring look at Christian faith, you will not find it here. This book is written with historical fact and detail; only on a few pages will the reader find reference to God, mainly when reading about the memorial services. Still, an amazing amount of facts presented. I received this book free for review from Booksneeze.com.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Escalera

    Any discussion of the sinking of the Titanic will usually include a mention of the heroic band of men who, even though facing certain death, played their instruments to the last, providing some measure of comfort and serenity to their fellow passengers. As a band, their last act lives on in fame, but as individuals very little is known about them. Steve Turner, in his book The Band That Played On, attempts to delve into the little that is known about each of the eight musicians, chronicling the Any discussion of the sinking of the Titanic will usually include a mention of the heroic band of men who, even though facing certain death, played their instruments to the last, providing some measure of comfort and serenity to their fellow passengers. As a band, their last act lives on in fame, but as individuals very little is known about them. Steve Turner, in his book The Band That Played On, attempts to delve into the little that is known about each of the eight musicians, chronicling the history of each man, including family backgrounds and how each came to be a part of the Titanic’s fateful voyage. Turner also weighs in on the “last song” debate, answering the question of which song the band is purported to have played in their last moments. Was it really “Nearer My God to Thee” or some other song? Read the book to find out! Although the amount of details available about each man varies, Turner weaves them together to present a stirring narrative. He does not go into the details of the sinking of the Titanic, choosing instead to focus on the musicians themselves. He gleans snippets of information about the band from accounts written by other passengers, both during and after the voyage/sinking. The end result is a book that brings the musicians out of the murky waters of obscurity and gives them back their humanity. (4/5 stars) (Thanks to Thomas Nelson for providing a review copy of this book.)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Valentina

    As a musician, I have always been drawn to the heroic tales that involve any type of artist. This book, which I received from Booksneeze, provided all of that and more. The fate of the members of the chamber orchestra aboard the Titanic is well know, ingrained in our memories by the James Cameron film and by the many accounts we might have come across throughout our lives. None, however, have focused on who these poor men were, why they were together on the ship, what and whom they were leaving As a musician, I have always been drawn to the heroic tales that involve any type of artist. This book, which I received from Booksneeze, provided all of that and more. The fate of the members of the chamber orchestra aboard the Titanic is well know, ingrained in our memories by the James Cameron film and by the many accounts we might have come across throughout our lives. None, however, have focused on who these poor men were, why they were together on the ship, what and whom they were leaving behind when they boarded the ship. Mr. Turner provides all of that in his sharp book. The writing is concise yet entertaining, not an easy feat, especially when the Titanic facts are so well known. It’s difficult to imagine a fresh way to tell the story, and yet, this book manages to do that. There is not a moment of extraneous or superfluous information which detracts from the story being told. We follow the lives of these men as they grow up and become the musicians doomed to play the hymn “Nearer my God to Thee” as the ship bowed out and sunk into the freezing waters off of New Foundland. I highly recommend this book for people with interest in the Titanic, for musicians and artists, or for anyone who wants to read about a group of talented and heroic men.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Adam Gray

    This book was particularly dry, even for someone like my self who loves history. It was more indepth look at their families, and guessing what the musicians did, then actually knowing what happened. It's not the authors fault that he couldn't find this information, as of course people who are in the midst of a tragedy like the sinking of the Titanic might not be the best reporter of songs played by the band. And speaking of that, the author spends pages going over not only what song they played This book was particularly dry, even for someone like my self who loves history. It was more indepth look at their families, and guessing what the musicians did, then actually knowing what happened. It's not the authors fault that he couldn't find this information, as of course people who are in the midst of a tragedy like the sinking of the Titanic might not be the best reporter of songs played by the band. And speaking of that, the author spends pages going over not only what song they played going down, but what version of the song it was. Seems trivial to spend so much time looking at that. The book is also filled with dozens of photographs of places that don't matter like a club that a musician played at, or an apartment a musician's sister lived in. There were some interesting parts, mostly the description of the sinking of the Titanic, and some of the after stories, but for the most part I was just praying that the story would end. Really wouldn't recommend this to anyone.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Matthias

    Very good book. Initially, I was disappointed because of the testimony of the four men. I guess it was always in the back of my mind that these 8 men were men of extraordinary character; superheroes, if you will. As it turns out, they had multiplied troubles, debts, divorces, out-of-wedlock relationships, etc... Their lives were, in large part, a mess. Superheroes they were not! Mr. Turner did a great job of making the scraps of history fit together in such a way that my mind could almost interpre Very good book. Initially, I was disappointed because of the testimony of the four men. I guess it was always in the back of my mind that these 8 men were men of extraordinary character; superheroes, if you will. As it turns out, they had multiplied troubles, debts, divorces, out-of-wedlock relationships, etc... Their lives were, in large part, a mess. Superheroes they were not! Mr. Turner did a great job of making the scraps of history fit together in such a way that my mind could almost interpreted the book as a narrative. It was very enjoyable to read, but sorrowful to realize how disordered many of their lives had become. I suppose at the end of the day, anybody can make a good decision and go out of the world in a noble way. I got what I wanted out of the book, but the testimony of the 8 musicians left me pining for MUCH more.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mandi Jayne

    I finished this because it was interesting information, and I hate not finishing books. But it was So. Very. Dry. The introduction was the most interesting part!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lorraine Montgomery

    We all know about the 8 musicians who continued to play their instruments as the Titanic sank, but how many of us know their stories, or even their names?  Steve Turner has done the research, spoken to their descendants (where there were any), and followed the trail of monuments of these 8 heroes — and make no mistake, they were heroes — and their legacy. Theo Brailey — William Theodore Brailey, born in Walthamstow, Essex, England, 25 October 1887, father a clairvoyant, he was a pianist on the Ti We all know about the 8 musicians who continued to play their instruments as the Titanic sank, but how many of us know their stories, or even their names?  Steve Turner has done the research, spoken to their descendants (where there were any), and followed the trail of monuments of these 8 heroes — and make no mistake, they were heroes — and their legacy. Theo Brailey — William Theodore Brailey, born in Walthamstow, Essex, England, 25 October 1887, father a clairvoyant, he was a pianist on the Titanic.  His father had a premonition and urged him not to go.  His body was never recovered or not identified. Roger Bricoux — Roger Marie Bricoux, cellist, born June 1st, 1891, Cosne-sur-Loire, France, the only French musician and the youngest of the musicians on the Titanic.  His body was either not recovered or not identified.  In 1913, he was officially declared a deserter by the French army and not registered as dead until the year 2000. Fred Clarke — John Frederick Preston Clarke, born at Chorlton, Manchester, Lancashire, England on 28 July 1883, bass violinist.  His body was recovered and buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Wallace Hartley — band leader, born Sun., June 2/1878, Colne, Lancashire.  Violinist, Hartley's body was recovered with his violin case strapped to his chest and returned (minus the violin) to Lancashire.  Later it was discovered that his violin had been returned to his fiancé, Maria Robinson, who had passed it down in the family as a sentimental keepsake.  In 2013, it was sold at auction for £900,000 ($1.6m). Jock Hume — John Law Hume, violinist, born 9 August, 1890, Dumfries, Scotland.  His body was recovered and buried at Fairview Cemetery, Halifax, N.S.  After his death, his father received a bill from musician agents CW & FN Black requesting a payment of 5s 4d for Jock's uniform account.  One example of pettiness that followed the sinking of the Titanic. Georges Krins — Georges Alexander Krins, violinist and bandleader of the smaller group that played outside the Café Français on the Titanic, born 18th March, 1889, Paris, France.  His body was either not recovered or not identified. Percy Taylor — born 20 March 1872 in Hackney, London, cellist.  His body was either not recovered or not identified. Wes Woodward — John Wesley Woodward, cellist, keen amateur photographer, born West Bromwich, Staffordshire, England on 11 September 1879.  His body was either not recovered or not identified. Turner has done an admirable job of tracing the histories of these brave men, their family life, religious affiliations, romantic relationships, musical background and achievements, the ships they served on, how they ended up serving together on the Titanic, and what they did the last day before she sailed.  Some of this is totally factual and parts logical conjecture based on other facts.  Several of the musicians had served together before and all were hired by CW & FN Black of Liverpool, musical agents for the steamship lines.  Only Clarke, Krins, and Taylor had never served at sea.  At the time of the sailing of the Titanic, musicians were not considered part of the ship's crew but were working for the Blacks, and therefore insurance at their demise was something of a muddle. There were memorial concerts performed to help the families of the musicians but sometimes a parent was not considered a dependent.  Some of the musicians had very little to leave behind while one or two left a considerable sum.  Some families went to court and Jock Hume's father was taken to court by his son's fiancé and lost the case as well as his house as he had to pay for the two violins Jock had taken on board with him on approval. Turner also includes excerpts from the some of the sermons preached about the courage and convictions of the 8 band members and some of the more controversial arguments about the "message" from the disaster — was it God's way of reminding man of his own limitations? — and the sobering thought that if musicians had survived it was almost certain that some, if not all, would have died in the coming war in Europe. This is a thoroughly interesting read which, for me, has sparked in interest in learning more and watching some of the movies and documentaries with a fresh insight not only into the people but  into some of the concepts I had not been aware of before.  I never realized that the huge machinery below decks would have come loose from their fittings and crashed through the compartments and bulkheads — so logical when you think of it.  The White Star Line contracted the CS Mackay-Bennett to do recovery work and "in seven days they recovered 306 bodies but 116 of them were buried at sea because of lack of identification".  All of the first class passengers retrieved were packed in coffins while all others were sewn into canvas bags and stowed in the hold on ice.  Steve Turner is a music journalist, biographer and poet.   The Band That Played On is a great addition to the Titanic body of information.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cheyenne

    I have always been intrigued about the tragedy of the Titanic disaster ever since I saw the traveling exhibit as a seven-year-old at the COSI museum back in 2010. I was obsessed, reading every encyclopedia about it that I could get my hands on. So when I learned that there was the largest Titanic museum in the area where our family went on vacation this year, I just had to go. Going through the exhibit was literally like stepping back in time, not just traveling back to the Edwardian period of E I have always been intrigued about the tragedy of the Titanic disaster ever since I saw the traveling exhibit as a seven-year-old at the COSI museum back in 2010. I was obsessed, reading every encyclopedia about it that I could get my hands on. So when I learned that there was the largest Titanic museum in the area where our family went on vacation this year, I just had to go. Going through the exhibit was literally like stepping back in time, not just traveling back to the Edwardian period of Europe and America right before World War I began, but also feeling the inner 7-year-old excitement that had lain dormant for so long. In the museum shop afterwards, I saw this book and picked up to see what it was about. (I mean hey, music and the Titanic? Can't get better than that, right?) The last sentence in the blurb was what really caught my attention and I knew I had to get it and read the story. Let's just say I was not disappointed at all. First of all, Steve Turner's mastery of language and prose is one that I almost thought lost to 21st century writers; it's a style I have always loved and try to imitate. His continual sense of foreboding was brilliantly carried throughout the story until the very end, even after the heroic deaths of the musicians and the funeral of their band leader, Wallace Hartley. I have never read non-fiction that has moved me so much, and I never thought before that non-fiction could bring me so close to tears. Especially when, in chapter eleven, Turner used so many accounts from witnesses and survivors telling about those final hours, how the musicians themselves themselves were frightened, but they knew that it was best for them to serve to calm the other passengers and crew rather then save their own souls. And also, how the survivors spoke of them as playing popular tunes until the end drew close, and then they changed to hymns, the last one being the famous "Nearer, My God, To Thee." It was the band leader's favorite hymn, and I quote from the book: "Ellwand Moody, Hartley's friend from the Mauretania, told the Leeds Mercury in April 1912: 'I remember one day I asked him what he would do if he were ever on a sinking ship and he replied "I don't think I would do better than play 'Oh God Our Help in Ages Past' or 'Nearer, My God, to Thee.'"'" These men all had family and loved ones to think of, careers ahead of them, but they sacrificed it all for a higher calling. I think that in those final moments, when the real gravity sunk in (if it hadn't before) that people would have been liable to panic. These musicians knew that it was too late, by that time, to escape on a lifeboat, but they remained calm. Instead of packing their instruments and leaving the ship, they stayed. They had no obligation from the passengers, the crew, nor the captain to remain, but they did so anyway, playing a hymn that was their final plea and offering of themselves to God before the ocean claimed them. Such courage and self-sacrifice is rare in this day and age. I think, should I be in that situation, that I would not have had the courage, as Hartley did, to lead the eight musicians, who had previously not played together, in song. They knew that they would die, but they kept on going anyway. As tragic as this story is, and also the heart-breaking-ness what happened after, I personally find this story very inspiring. To have such bravery in the face of death, to continue on playing when in moments you would face your Creator, I don't think in any normal circumstances I would be able to do it. But then, this was no normal circumstance. I know that so many people that know of the Titanic story are aware of little about the lives of the musicians that were some of the bravest passengers in those midnight hours from April 14th to 15th, 1912, but it is most certainly a story that needs to be better known!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Being a fan of all things Titanic I was looking forward to reading this. It started out good and I could tell that a lot of research went into this book. I learned some things that I didn't know which is always good. After the first 3 or 4 musicians backgrounds, they all started to run together and I couldn't keep them straight. The book started reading like a report, so and so lived here and moved there and moved again. There are a lot of assumptions made which took away from the reality of the Being a fan of all things Titanic I was looking forward to reading this. It started out good and I could tell that a lot of research went into this book. I learned some things that I didn't know which is always good. After the first 3 or 4 musicians backgrounds, they all started to run together and I couldn't keep them straight. The book started reading like a report, so and so lived here and moved there and moved again. There are a lot of assumptions made which took away from the reality of the book. I lost interest in the book during the chapter about what the band was playing when the Titanic sunk. It could have been summed up by saying a majority of the survivors hear "Nearer My God to Thee" and instead of all the different variations of the hymn. Seriously, multiple pages describing in detail the various differences, left my head spinning. There were also some errors in the book that also took away from the reality of the book. In the beginning it stated that Wallace Hartley was the only band member whose body was recovered. Towards the end it was stated that there were actually three band member bodies that were recovered, but Hartley's was the only one returned to England. The ship his body was returned on, in one place it said that it left New York on May 17th and in another it stated that it arrived in England on April 17th. What? How could a ship arrived a month before it left? Overall, I like the first part of this book and found the historical aspects interesting. I lost interest when it turned into a report and a debate about what song was playing.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Summer

    So I struggled with half of this book, but starting at the legal claims chapter, I got much more into it. Unfortunately, I only had about 3 chapters left after that. I considered DNFing at one point because I felt like some of the chapters were just repeating the same information that was already relayed. To write a book on the musicians that went down with the ship is obviously tough because there just isn't a lot more to know seeing how none of them survived to expand any more on the story. Th So I struggled with half of this book, but starting at the legal claims chapter, I got much more into it. Unfortunately, I only had about 3 chapters left after that. I considered DNFing at one point because I felt like some of the chapters were just repeating the same information that was already relayed. To write a book on the musicians that went down with the ship is obviously tough because there just isn't a lot more to know seeing how none of them survived to expand any more on the story. There just wasn't a lot of information to work with here, and too much of the book was speculation, and that just wasn't what I was wanting. Wallace Hartley's violin that he played on the Titanic was eventually discovered, which is awesome! At the time of writing this, the violin had just been discovered and was going through the authenticating process, so it's cool to be on this side of it. Overall, it was fine, I was hoping for more, the writing was pretty dry, but if you're really interested in looking more into this topic, you'll definitely learn something.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kyla

    Every Titanic buff knows the stories - the wealthy couple that died in each other's arms rather than be separated, the crew that struggled valiantly to get women and children into unfamiliar lifeboats, the venerable captain that bravely went down with his ship and, of course, the band that kept playing until they were drowned out by the noises of tearing metal, shattering glass and the screams of the dying. The problem is, nobody knows too much about that band as a collection of individual music Every Titanic buff knows the stories - the wealthy couple that died in each other's arms rather than be separated, the crew that struggled valiantly to get women and children into unfamiliar lifeboats, the venerable captain that bravely went down with his ship and, of course, the band that kept playing until they were drowned out by the noises of tearing metal, shattering glass and the screams of the dying. The problem is, nobody knows too much about that band as a collection of individual musicians, just "the band" as a group. The Band That Played on takes the time and does the research to introduce the reader to each player as an individual, a young man with a family, a future, a wife or girlfriend, and a dream that he'd never live to see. I recommend it. These gentlemen are worth meeting.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tahlia

    Some interesting parts of the text: 'A letter from the White Star Line auctioned in 2002 revealed that at least one of the passenger's relatives was asked to pay 20 pounds to ship a body back to England.' Was also horrified to learn that discrimination was rife between the passengers even in death - the rich were put into coffins straight away when found, while lower class passengers were placed in bags. Even poorer passengers, who could not be identified, were thrown back into the sea. Some interesting parts of the text: 'A letter from the White Star Line auctioned in 2002 revealed that at least one of the passenger's relatives was asked to pay 20 pounds to ship a body back to England.' Was also horrified to learn that discrimination was rife between the passengers even in death - the rich were put into coffins straight away when found, while lower class passengers were placed in bags. Even poorer passengers, who could not be identified, were thrown back into the sea.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Boyd

    An excellent book delving into the history of the greatest band in the world. Well-researched and well-written. I learned quite a bit about the families and background of the band members of the ill-fated steamer. Honestly, I went into it expecting to know pretty much everything because of how much I've researched this topic, but I not only learned, I was drawn in to the stories. I found myself on the brink of tears multiple times. I highly recommend this book to all Titanic scholars, young & ol An excellent book delving into the history of the greatest band in the world. Well-researched and well-written. I learned quite a bit about the families and background of the band members of the ill-fated steamer. Honestly, I went into it expecting to know pretty much everything because of how much I've researched this topic, but I not only learned, I was drawn in to the stories. I found myself on the brink of tears multiple times. I highly recommend this book to all Titanic scholars, young & old.

  28. 5 out of 5

    David

    The author gave voice to individuals who are really just known as a group and as a symbol of western heroics. The telling got a bit tedious and was hard to follow because of it, but the overall treatment in the context of history is enjoyable and illuminating. I most appreciate that he helps us see that the story of the band was a part of the myth because of the political necessity in shaping the narrative of the hubris-fed disaster

  29. 5 out of 5

    Eric Hollister

    3.5 stars. I found this book interesting, however the understandable but ever-present speculation grew wearisome, and some things seemed to be included just to make the book longer (such as the descriptions of what happened to their families post-titanic, to include parents, siblings, siblings children, etc. etc. etc.).

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jocelyn

    A different take on the story of the Titanic, unfortunately there is a lot of guess work as these men didn't leave behind any written records and were the subject of very different recollections of the survivors. The book was slightly repetitive, but well laid out. A different take on the story of the Titanic, unfortunately there is a lot of guess work as these men didn't leave behind any written records and were the subject of very different recollections of the survivors. The book was slightly repetitive, but well laid out.

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