Pianos


Jan 28, 2003
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Hmm. Pianos were, then, very important of course. Entertainment, and religious services etc. But 8 does seem quite a lot. And you'd think, with the keys then being ivory, that they'd survive in some forensic form today. But they might be inside the wreck. Pianos are generally not very moveable, since they lose their pitch when trundled about. So, having them in fixed places would be better.
 

Eloise Aston

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Feb 24, 2009
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Yes, according to the German site and an expert they consulted (Titanic enthusiast who knows about pianos, I think), these Steinways were specially made for ships, without wheels so they wouldn't move, and designed to cope better with damp - therefore possibly still inside the wreck?

It all looks authentic, but I can't square it with the 5 pianos I heard elsewhere, so wondered where that number came from. It seems from my information that Steinway had some kind of contract with WSL.
 

Jim Currie

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Apr 16, 2008
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Funchal. Madeira
Hi Monica!

I served on three pre-WW2 passenger ships (One was a re-build exactly the same as the other two. The original was sunk by enemy action.

All of these had at least four pianos that I can remember. Two grands and two uprights. They were bolted to the deck for obvious reasons.
We had an upright in the the Cafe. It was used mainly by passengers if they wished. The grands were in the main dining saloon and the passenger lounge respectively but I can't remember where the fourth was. We did not have any professional entertainers on board when I was on these ships so I expect they were mainly used by passengers.

Piano lessons were very much a part of the education of a very large percentage of UK children in the late 1800s and right up until the early 1950s.- even relatively poor children, most of whom were girls. It follows; there was always someone who could 'tinkle the ivories'.
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Hi Jim,
Your ships sound rather peaceful and pleasant - no professional entertainers and pianos for the passengers. I'd enjoy a versatile ship's band, though, but I don't think I fancy the Las Vegas-style entertainment offered these days. My cousin's daughter was a purser for a cruise ship for several years, and she said her employers seemed to have a considerable fear of leaving passengers to their own devices. Mind you, possibly modern passengers also have a fear of being left to their own devices. I've never been on a cruise, but have the vague feeling that I'd really want to be in an almost trance-like state, induced by having spent £000s in order to do precisely nothing, the panorama of an empty sea, a leisurely swim, good reading material, and plentiful supplies of excellent food and drink. Plus the occasional exciting card game, and the pleasant surprise of discovering that I was among talented and musical passengers.

I don't think I'd be one of the latter really, despite having had the piano lessons, as I don't play by ear very well. With a bit of practice (on my own piano which I play infrequently for fear of upsetting the neighbours) I could probably manage Liebestraum or a selection of popular songs from 1910-1930s - not that I was actually around then, but as light relief from the classics, I mastered several volumes of Lawrence Welks Bumper Song Book which were in my house. I don't know why they were there, as neither of my parents could play, but I learned Hard-Hearted Hannah, the Vamp of Savannah, Oh! You Beautiful Doll, Ain't Misbehavin' and other - to me - mystifying oeuvres. I think Oh, You Beautiful Doll would have earned me a place at Titanic's third class upright....
 

Jim Currie

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Apr 16, 2008
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Funchal. Madeira
I'll hire you any time Monica!

Actually, my last passenger ships were one-class ships -First!

The food was great and the surroundings were ..well..Titanic-like. Beautiful wood,polished brass and etched glass everywhere. White linen, silver service, kippers, kedgeree and kidneys (deviled) for breakfast. Dressing-up to eat. Bridge games (the card kind!)after dinner in the evenings, etc etc.

My house overlooks the harbour and I see three or four of these plastic soap-dish- like monsters almost every day. Most of them look like blocks of flats lying on their sides or the exposed side of a bee-hive. I have absolutely no desire what-so-ever to join the throngs which these 'things' (I refuse to call them ships) disgorge onto the quay-side. I'm sure the passengers are all lovely people. They are now enabled to enjoy a trip of a life-time that only the very wealthy were able to do in the past and that's a fine thing. I'm just grateful that I was able to share what was left from the great days of graceful ships.
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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‘I cannot describe any part of a ship which needs 85 clocks and 16 pianos to furnish it!’
Just thought I'd enter this into the conversation - I've quoted this letter by James Moody before on the board, but will include it in this thread as it is relevant to the discussion. I don't believe the figures he quotes in this letter of March 29, 1912 are necessarily accurate - I can think of another instance in which he quoted PR material rather than actual specs when writing about the ship. These were, after all, merely informal letters written to those close to him.
 

A. Gabriel

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Jun 13, 2018
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New information concerning the pianos Titanic was furnished with has come to light for me and I'm not sure if it is credible -- I therefore present it here for more scrupulous eyes to scrutinize.

We are of course aware of Titanic's six celebrated pianos, five of them supplied by the Hamburg branch of Steinway & Sons:
1st Class Boat Deck (Steinway R, near Grand Staircase)
1st Class Reception Room (Steinway B, the only grand piano on board)
1st Class Dining Saloon (Steinway R)
2nd Class Entrance (Steinway K, behind/outside Library)
2nd Class Dining Saloon (Steinway K)
3rd Class General Room (model and maker unknown -- until now?)

An acquaintance I had the good fortune of meeting online mentioned hearing about a so-called Mascagni-Modell piano that had been on board and surmised it could have been the missing 3rd Class piano. Tracking down a variety of German sources, it turns out there was a pianomaker called Hof-Pianoforte-Fabrik Thein, founded by Otto Thein in 1863 and apparently based in Bremen and Hamburg, that claims to have supplied a piano that went down with Titanic. It seems to still be in operation today as Klavierhaus Thein & Grunau.

According to the accounts, the grandfather of the current generation of Thein instrument-makers collaborated with a Pietro Mascagni to create an Italian-sounding concert upright piano, and the result was the model of piano they claim went down with the ship. As five of Titanic's six known pianos are accounted for as Steinways, it seems that we can mark the 3rd Class General Room's piano as a Thein Mascagni-Modell upright.
 
May 3, 2005
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Possibly a bit off topic, but possibly related......?
I have heard that there was an organ , or organs, on Titanic. ("Pipe Organ"") ?
If so , where were they located , and were they ever used during Titanic's short life ?
 
May 3, 2005
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My only experience on an ocean going passenger ship crossing the Pacific from California to Japan was on USNS General Daniel I. Sultan (TAP-120). Accommodations and food services a bit less than those described by others......But it did have movies shown for entertainment.

On the other hand , an experience on another ship . First Class Cabin Suite on "A" Deck and Evening Meal at the former Verandah Grill.Very enjoyable even though the ship never got underway..........(Hotel Queen Mary, Long Beach, CA, USA)
 
May 3, 2005
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An organ is heard in the background during the singing of the hymn in the scene of the Sunday Service in the (1953) "Titanic" movie.
I'm not sure about the other movies.(?)
 

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