Gilbert & Sullivan on the Titanic


A

Addison Hart

Guest
Hello all,

I recently heard that some pieces by Gilbert & Sullivan were played by Titanic's band. As G&S were undoubtedly the greatest musical composers of all time, and certainly my favorite, I'd like to pursue this. Does anyone know which G&S was played on board our ship of ships?

Thanks,
Addison (Who'll be on holiday June 3rd through 23rd)

"So despite all temptations, to belong to other nations, he remains an Englishman, he remains an Englishman."
------HMS Pinafore

"When I was a lad I took a term as office boy in an attorney's firm.
"I washed the windows and swept the floor, and polished the handle on the big front door.
"I polished the handle so carefully that now I am the ruler of the Queen's Navy."
-------HMS Pinafore
(GILBERT & SULLIVAN)
 

Eric Sauder

Member
Nov 12, 2000
403
8
171
Hello, Addison:

Another Savoyard! Good man!

According to a period White Star Music Program, selections from the following G&S operas were played on White Star ships:

Mikado, Pirates of Penzance, Iolanthe (my favorite!), Gondoliers. There was also a piece from Haddon Hall (one of Sullivan's non-Gilbert pieces from the 1890s after they had their falling out).

Looking through my Lusitania Music Program, the same basic selections were played on Cunard ships, but the only additional Sullivan piece is the "Graceful Dance" from his incidental music to Shakespeare's "Henry VIII."

Slightly off topic -- Have you ever heard Sullivan's Cello Concerto or his Irish Symphony? Outstanding pieces. He was quite an underrated composer of serious music.

Eric Sauder
 

Pat Cook

Member
Apr 27, 2000
1,277
5
0
G & S were also inferred in some Titanic literature of the time. In Lawrence Beesley's book "The Loss of the S S Titanic", he wrote:

"Looking down astern from the boat deck or from B deck to the steerage quarters, I often noticed how the third-class passengers were enjoying every minute of the time: a most uproarious skipping game of the mixed-double type was a great favorite, while 'in and out and roundabout' went a Scotchman with his bagpipes playing something that Gilbert says, 'fairly resembles an air'."

The 'Scotchman' was Irishman Eugene Patrick Daly, playing "Erin's Lament" on his uileann, or 'elbow' bagpipes. The 'Gilbert', of course, refers to William S. Gilbert. Lawrence here makes two references to G. and S. tunes. The first part - "in and out and roundabout" - refers to the Grand Inquisitor's song in "The Gondoliers". The lyric reads;

"Search in and out and roundabout
And you'll discover never
A tale so free from every doubt
All probable, possible shadow of doubt
All possible doubt whatever"

Beesley's second reference - 'faintly resembles an air' - comes from "Ellen M' Jones Aberdeen", which includes the stanza:

"Macphairson Clonglockety Angus, my lad
With pibrochs and reels you are driving me mad
If you really must play on that cursed affair
My goodness, play something resembling an air"

It's enough to turn one into a 'regular wreck with a crick in your neck, no wonder you're sore, your head's on the floor, you've needles and pins from your souls to your shins...well, you get the idea.

Best regards,
Cook
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
5,039
292
353
I came on this G & S /Titanic connection only today.

Evidently Lord Mersey was a fan, for he attended Gilbert's funeral on June 2nd 1911.

I can just see him in court.

"The law is the true embodiment
Of everything that's excellent.
It has no kind of fault of flaw,
And I, my Lords, embody the law."

Did Mersey

"assume that the witnesses summoned in force
In Exchequer, Queen's Bench, Common Pleas or Divorce
Have perjured themselves as a matter of course"
 
Dec 12, 1999
1,002
4
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The G&S "H.M.S. Pinafore" opera is extremely critical of the aristocracy, and government bureaucrats --like Lord Mersey.

I grew so rich,
That I was sent,
By pocket borough in to Parliament,
I always voted at my party's
call,
And I never thought of thinking
for myself at all.

I thought so little they rewarded
me,
By making me the ruler of the Queen's Navy.

Now landsmen all,
Who ever you may be,
If you want to rise to the top
of the tree.

If your soul isn't fettered
to an office stool,
Be careful to be guided by this
Golden Rule:
STICK CLOSE TO YOUR DESKS,
AND NEVER GO TO SEA,
AND YOU ALL MAY BE RULERS OF THE
QUEEN'S NAVY.
 
A

Addison Hart

Guest
A note, Thanks for all these responses, I regret I shall not be able to reply to them until June 24th, when I return from holiday. We leave today at noon. Anyway, thanks for all these responses, and I'm somehwat amazed at all the G&S info dug up regarding the big T. Anyway, thank you all for your responses, I shall reply June 24th to, hopefully each one. Funny, this morning I awoke to my Classical Radio station playing five selected tunes from G&S. This was made up of 3 from the Mikado and 2 from the Pirates of Penzance. I was amazed at the good taste, until the announcer, proving himself to be a very thick little fellow, named one of the selected pieces of music as 'I am the very pattern of a modern Major General.' Pattern?? Pattern?? Well, that's America for you.

Addison
 

rudi newman

Member
Oct 16, 2006
5
1
71
Hi,
Mersey and Gilbert were good friends, and the 'Times weekly edition' covering Gilbert's obituary has front page news of the launch of the Titanic!
Found a while back a parody G&S/Mersey song - an interesting addition:

LORD MERSEY’S SONG.

When I was a lad fresh out of school
I worked with my father up in Liverpool
I stamped the letters and I filed the bills
And I tallied up the money in our great big tills.

And he tallied up the money in their great big tills!

And nobody thought, who looked at me,
That I'd ever be a viscount and a rich KC!

And nobody thought who looked at he
That he'd ever be a viscount and a rich KC!

But business life I found so tame
I sought in another field to make my name.
I took to the law and I knuckled down
And I soon became a barrister in wig and gown!

And he soon became a barrister in wig and gown!

And that’s how you start to climb the tree
If you want to be a viscount and a rich KC!

And that’s how you start to climb the tree
If you want to be a viscount and a rich KC!

When a big, bad iceberg hit Titanic
The cunning British government refused to panic.
They set me up in the Scottish Hall
And I found that no-one was at fault at all!

And he found that no-one was at fault at all!

And that’s the kind of wisdom you’d expect to see
From someone who’s a viscount and a rich KC!

And that’s the kind of wisdom you’d expect to see
From someone who’s a viscount and a rich KC!

When Empress of Ireland hit the mud
The Canadians cried, “Give us a hand, m’lud!”
I taught the colonials how to judge
Between ourselves, it was a great big fudge!

Between ourselves, it was a great big fudge!

But that kind of fudging has to be
If you want to be a viscount and a rich KC!

But that kind of fudging has to be
If you want to be a viscount and a rich KC!

When Lusitania met her end
The government asked me, as a trusted friend,
To find it was the doing of the wicked Huns
And not the silly bungling of Britannia’s sons.

And not the silly bungling of Britannia’s sons.

Invention is the daughter of necessity
When you want to be a viscount and a rich KC!

Invention is the daughter of necessity
When you want to be a viscount and a rich KC!

Now schoolboys all, whatever you may do,
Take heed of the advice that I am giving you.
Don’t bother with philosophy or history,
Or all the other guff at university.

Or all the other guff at university.

Go in for the law, and always get your fee,
And you can be a viscount and a rich KC!

Go in for the law, and always get your fee,
And you can be a viscount and a rich KC!
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
5,039
292
353
I'm glad you like my little song!

Mersey knew both Gilbert and Sullivan and was a passable singer. Mersey was one of the chief mourners at Gilbert's funeral in 1911.
 

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