THE TITANIC’S MUSICIANS: HEROES ALL
Something About the Men Who Played “Nearer My God to Thee” as the Ship Went Down — Masters of Their Instruments and One of Them a Concert Artist — Music a Bigger Weapon for Stopping Disorder than Anything Else on Earth Was Bandmaster Hartley’s Theory, and He and His Men Acted on It to the End
THE eight musicians who went down in the Titanic and who were playing “Nearer My God to Thee” when all the boats had gone, were under the leadership of Bandmaster Wallace Hartley, of Dewsbury, Eng., who was transferred from the Mauretania to take up his duties on the biggest steamer of the White Star Line, and who, incidentally, was soon to have married a young Englishwoman. Under Hartley’s direction were John Hume, violinist; Herbert Taylor, pianist; Fred Clark, bass viol; George Woodward, ‘cellist, and Messrs. Brailey, Krins and Breicoux, who played when the others were off duty.
On the Celtic, which docked in New York last Saturday, were John S. Carr and Louis Cross, ‘cellist and bass viol of the orchestra on that steamship. When they got shore leave they told a representative of the New York Sun something about the men on the Titanic, with whom they had made many voyages. They also were acquainted with the conditions under which the men lived on the Titanic, and gave a graphic idea of the manner in which they must have responded when the call of duty came.
“Some were already in bed and some were probably smoking when the ship hit the iceberg,” said John S. Carr. “The Titanic had a special lounging and smoking room, with the sleeping rooms opening off it. It was so late that they all must have been there when the first shock came. Bandmaster Hartley was a man with the highest sort of a sense of duty. I don’t suppose he waited to be sent for, but after finding how dangerous the situation was he probably called his men together and began playing. I know that he often said that music was a bigger weapon for stopping disorder than anything on earth.
He knew the value of the weapon he had and I think he proved his point.”
Hume the Violinist
“The thing that hits me hardest,” said Louis Cross, “is the loss of Happy Jock Hume, who was one of the violinists. Hume was the life of every ship he ever played on and was beloved by everyone from cabin boys to captains on the White Star Line. He was a young Scotchman, not over twenty-one, and came of a musical family. His father and his grandfather before him had been violinists and makers of musical instruments. The name is well known in Scotland because of it. His real first name was John, but the Scotch nickname stuck to him and it was as Jock Hume that he was known to everyone on the White Star Line, even when he sailed as bandmaster.
“Over in Dumfries, Scotland, I happen to know there’s a sweet young girl hoping against hope. Jock was to have been married the next time that he made the trip across the ocean. He was a young man of exceptional musical ability. If he had lived I believe he would not long have remained a member of a ship’s orchestra. He studied a great deal, although he could pick up without trouble difficult compositions which would have taken others long to learn.
“The odd part of it is that Jock Hume’s mother had a premonition that something would happen to him on this trip. He was on the sister ship Olympic ·a few months ago when on her maiden voyage she collided with the warship Hawk. There was a rent torn in the side of the Olympic at that time and she had to be towed back to Belfast.
“Young Hume went back to his home in Dumfries to spend the time until she should be repaired, and when his mother heard of the accident she begged him not to go back to life on the sea. He told numbers of people in Liverpool about it. Mrs. Hume had a dream of some sort and said she was sure no good would come of it if he went back. Jock had his eye on going in for concert music sooner or later, but he laughed at his mother’s fears and took the chance to go on the Titanic. He was known on many ships and had friends in New York. Last Winter he got to know Americans who were wintering at the Constant Springs Hotel in Kingston Jamaica. He had been bandmaster on the Carmania of the Cunard line and had played with the orchestras of the Majestic, the California of the Anchor line and the Megantic of the White Star Company, which plies between Liverpool and Montreal.
“Hume was a light-hearted, fine-tempered young fellow with curly blond hair a light complexion and a pleasant smile. He is mourned by ·every man who knew him.
“Another thing of which we are all talking is that Fred Clark, the bass viol of the Titanic, should have gone down on his first trip across the Atlantic. Clark was well known in concert in Scotland and had never shipped before. The White Star people were particularly anxious to have good music on the first trip of the Titanic and offered him good pay to make just one trip. As the Winter concert season had closed he finally accepted. He was thirty-four years of age and was not married, but had a widowed mother. He was a well set up man of a little over medium height, with black hair dark complexion and a high forehead. Clark was jolly company and of optimistic temperament. Just before he sailed a number of people were joking with him about his finally going to sea and he said:
“‘Well, you know it would be just my luck to go down with the ship. I’ve kept away from it so long it might finish me on this trip.’ Then he laughed cheerily and all his friends joined in. They all considered the Titanic as safe as a hotel.
A Finished Pianist
“Herbert Taylor, the pianist, was considered a master of his instrument. He was a man of an intellectual turn of mind with a thin, studious face. He was married and his home was in London. About Woodward , the ‘cellist. I can tell you but little. His home was in Leeds. The other three men—Braley, Krins and Breicoux—made up the trio which played in the second cabin and in the restaurant. They had been playing together for some time but neither Carr nor myself shipped with them on any voyage.
“It’s a mistake from the technical point of view to call a steamer’s orchestra a band,” said Carr. “The term is a survival of the days when they really had a brass band on board. On all the big steamships now the music is given by men who are thorough masters of their instruments. The Titanic orchestra was considered one of the finest which was ever boated when the ship put out from the other side—and I think the way the men finished up showed that they had about as good stuff inside as any who went down in the Atlantic.”