The band's repertoire your favourite melody


Senan Molony

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Jun 28, 1998
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Was it Mrs Cardeza felt a chill every time later in life she heard the Bacarolle from the Tales of Hoffman?
The band was playing it on the evening the Titanic sank. A beautiful composition by Jacques Offenbach. Loved hearing it on the radio today on the way to work. Summed up that era of gorgeous idleness. We need more idleness!
Think they also had Balfe's "Bohemian Girl" on the Titanic band's play list. Joan Sutherland's interpretation of "I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls" is to my mind simply exquisite.
Go on then - what's your all-star pick from the Titanic band's playlist... and why?
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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Senan- It was the Countess of Rothes who felt the chill, or so says Walter Lord in the Afterwards of ANTR. Tales of Hoffman, incidentally, is the subect of yet another of those hard to swallow psychic coincidence stories, as the Ring Theatre in Vienna burned with the loss of 850 lives on 8 December 1881 during a performance and it was supposedly the last piece of after dinner music played on the Titanic. A certain breed of "journalist" have taken those two incidents, added a bunch of impossible-to-verify smaller tragedies, and come up with "the cursed opera." For me, two tragedies in a 119 year time frame hardly constitute a curse. I've always had a warm spot for Les Contes de Hoffman, so I favor the that as the all-star choice.
 
Mar 20, 2000
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I think Irving Berlin's big hit "Alexander's Ragtime Band" must have been played by the Titanic's band at some point during the voyage, if not in fact on the ship's last night afloat.

To me the tune - youthful, optimistic, slightly bawdy - is symbolic of the change in the social air in the second decade of the 20th century. Automobiles and electricity, motion pictures and phonographs were swiftly becoming part of even average people's daily existence. Manners were relaxing, dancing was fast and fun, clothes were paring down, the popular media was encroaching.

A war was to ravage that generation but upbeat songs by Berlin & other up-n-coming ragtime/jazz composers were not silenced. They were needed more than ever to lift the world from the sorrow of the trenches.

"Alexander's Ragtime Band" went through several renditions in the teens & 20s, sung by various artistes - Ethel Levey, Sophie Tucker - but I've always been fond of Bessie Smith's 1927 recorded version.

I'm sure Berlin's 1911-12 original was different from Bessie's bellowing interpretation but the spirit must have been similar.

I've wondered what effect such a snappy ditty might have had on confused, anxious crowds milling about in the midnight cold of the sinking Titanic's boat deck that April 14. Would they have been encouraged? Or would it have made them more nervous? To me the fast pace of the song has always been intoxicating but if I were standing worried on a tilting deck in the middle of the ocean, I think it would have made me jumpy.

I like to think that this happy song was not among the ill-fated band's repertoire during the sad events of that night. I hope they played something more dignified. I want to envision "Alexander's Ragtime Band" being played in the warmth of the lounge during a concert, where everyone was happy and laughing and joking and the terrible fate that awaited them was still a long time to come.

Randy
 
Aug 29, 2000
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Eternal Father Strong to Save or The Navy Hymn unlocks my tearducts every time- the words sum up the perils faced by all those who would go down to the sea in ships. My Dad was career Navy- and every Sunday at Annapolis I would listen to the midshipmen close each service with it in the Naval Academy Chapel. My Sis and husband were also Navy and I ran away twice to join up myself- so it is very special to me- and so fitting to have been sung in the day's Sunday service aboard Titanic. I am sure Capt. Smith must have loved it- and I can visualize him singing it.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Randy- Yes, that Bessie Smith rendition of Alexander's Ragtime band was something, wasn't it? Probably far from the arrangement used on the Titanic, but amongst the best. According to Walter Lord, a number of survivors specifically remembered "Alexander" being played 'though he didn't say by whom or at what stage of the sinking it was heard. And, if the arrangement used was anything like that on the Titanic CD by Ian Whitcomb, it would have been FAR from intoxicating and closer to soothing than would have been the more common fast arrangements- the musicians were playing for, and had been playing for, the predominantly middle-aged or elderly (and presumably conservative) First Class passengers and I think that the bland take on the CD is probably a good reflection of the approach that would have been taken. As a fan of the song I agree with you, I'd rather that it had been played in a happier context.
 

Erik Wood

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Aug 24, 2000
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Mr. Kalafus speaks of a very good CD which I have. As much as I hate to say this. I think that the sequence in the Cameron movie with nearer my god to thee. Was wonderful.

Erik
 
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Jane Green

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I have to agree that Marble halls is a beautiful song. I only discovered it when I heard Enya's version, and didn't actually realise it was an old song.
 

Dave Hudson

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Apr 25, 2001
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Hello All,
I hate to say this too, but I think that the version of Alexander on Back to Titanic was probably very close to reality and is my favorite. I don't think that the passengers would have been nervous when hearing the tune. They had just been awaken in the middle of the night to find a very strange pajama-themed costume party in the Lounge. Few of them had felt the jar and were either annoyed by (what they considered) a late night lifeboat drill, or happy to be a part of the fun of a midnight emergency on an unsinkable liner.
David
 

Sam Brannigan

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Dec 20, 2000
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Thank God Andrew Lloyd Webber wasn't around in those days.

They would have launched the boats before the ship even got near ice if they had to listen to that!

:)

Regards

Sam
 
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Pat Cook

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Apr 26, 2000
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I would have to go with "Songe d'Automne". I am always swept away whenever I hear that tune on my Whitcomb CD.

And while we're on the subject of melodies (this one not on the White Star Lines list) does anyone know where I can find a copy of "Erin's Lament"?

Warmest regards,
Cook
 
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Rolf Vonk

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In my opinion "Chant sans paroles" (song without words) is really great! You should listen to that one, I'm sure you like it.

Cook, if I'm correct I've once seen Erin's Lament in a "Ireland Music Box" or something. However I can't remember which it was. I suggest you take a look on those Music boxes.

Many regards,
Rolf
 
Aug 29, 2000
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Mr. C.- do you want the sheet music or a recorded version of Erin's Lament? Titanic International had a bagpiper play this in the cemetery at Halifax and also onboard the Island Breeze on expedition back in 1996 over the wreck site. It was a very poignant experience hearing it there for the first time
 

Pat Cook

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Apr 26, 2000
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Thanks Rolf and Shel. Actually, I'd just like to hear the melody. I have often wondered if Horner had heard it before composing the soundtrack for Cameron's movie.

I can imagine what a chlling experience it was to hear it played, expecially at Halifax.

Best regards,
Cook

ps. Shel - 'Mr. C.'? And after all we've been through...
 
Dec 13, 1999
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Shell, Sorry to spoil you little affair (sorry!) but if you open up your email there should be the address of the Smith descendant that I mentioned. If it is not there just email me and I'll send it again. Right, I'll let you two get back to business.

Geoff

p.s. Shell, I thought I was your paramour! Not that old Helen Cook - what's he got that I haven't - a bus pass!!!
 
Aug 29, 2000
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Psst...Curlylocks- you know it had to be YOU! Got your billet doux about Hancocks-much better than a bus pass! Rendez-vous behind the second from the left aspidistra? Usual time? I will be wearing a red carnation if the coast is clear.
 

Pat Cook

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Apr 26, 2000
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Oh yeah? I could've sent her a billet deux if I wanted to! LOTS of them. In fact, ALL my billets are deux, some of them OVERdeux!

Its a sad day when a young whippersnapper shows up to steal a dish away from his old gramps.

Lone Star Lonesome,
Cook
 
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Katie Sharrocks

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Prelude in A minor by Chopin
I heard it when I was on the QE2. tHat was a pretty spooky experiance!
 

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