Wallace Hartley’s violin (via the Bournemouth News)
As passengers frantically piled into the lifeboats or gazed down at their doom in the icy waters, the Titanic band continued to play on the tilting deck. Bandleader Wallace Hartley led the string group on his rosewood violin until the last moment and then packed it cafeully into his luggage that he strapped to himself, hoping for the best. His body was found floating 10 days later, the violin still clutched to his body.
Dedication to Wallace Hartley from his fiance Maria (photograph via the Bournemouth News)
The instrument had been a gift to Hartley from his fiance, and it was to her that it returned after the Titanic sank. After her death in 1939, it disappeared, turning up in 2006 in an attic in England. It took seven years to confirm its authenticity, according to the Telegraph, and now it’s finally on display to the public.
Wallace Hartley (via Daily Record)
Despite some warping from the water, the instrument is in remarkable shape, although unplayable. It was first exhibited in Belfast, the Titanic’s point of departure, for the anniversary last year, and it’s arrived this month in the United States. Its first stop is the Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge Tennessee, a museum contained in a half-scale recreation of the Titanic in the Smoky Mountains. Then it will travel to its sister museum in Branson, which, incredibly, is also shaped like a giant replica of the ocean liner. Finally, this October it will be auctioned by Henry Aldrige & Son in England, but no matter where the well-traveled instrument finally ends up, it will be a haunting reminder of that last harrowing serenade.
WALLACE HARTLEY’S VIOLIN: TITANIC MUSEUM ATTRACTION, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee