Steve Turner

Steve Turner is a music journalist, biographer and poet, who grew up in Northamptonshire, England.

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The Band That Played On (Thomas Nelson, 2011)Edit

This book explores the path each musician took to join the band that played on the Titanic, their decision to play throughout the ship’s sinking, and the impact their bravery had on survivors.


  • The image of the lighted ship sliding under the waves, while the band carried on regardless, captured the public’s imagination.
    • p. 7
  • As the screams in the water multiplied, another sound was heard, strong and clear at first, then fainter in the distance. It was the melody of the hymn “Nearer, My God, To Thee,” played by the string orchestra in the dining saloon.
    • p. 10
  • By the twentieth of April, the story was widely accepted and was viewed as one of the most heartening acts of bravery in the whole tragedy.
    • p. 10
  • The band played marching from deck to deck, and as the ship went under I could still hear the music.
    • p. 11
  • In the whole history of the sea, there is little to equal the wonderful behavior of these humble players.
    • p. 11
  • In the last moments of the great ship’s doom, when all was plainly lost, when braver and hardier men might almost have been excused for doing practically anything to save themselves, they stood responsive to their conductor’s baton and played a recessional tune.
    • p. 11
  • The story of their gallantry came to epitomize a spirit of courage, duty and self-sacrifice.
    • p. 13
  • The musicians had played on the deck as the ship went down. They had forfeited their lives for the sake of others. They had played the tunes of hymns to induce a spirit of peace and calm. They were heroic.
    • p. 13
  • Shipwreck was an ever-present possibility in 1912.
    • p. 129
  • It was 11:45 at night according to ship’s time when the Titanic grazed along the iceberg that would send it to the ocean bed.
    • p. 137
  • “The ship’s orchestra of eight young men were standing knee deep in water playing.”
    • p. 140
  • [Bandleader Hartley] apparently believed that music could be more powerful that physical force in bringing order to chaos.
    • p. 141
  • Despite the awfulness of what was happening, the backdrop was a scene of beauty: a clear sky, a bright moon, clearly visible stars, flat undisturbed water, and an immense liner blazing with pinholes of light.
    • p. 142
  • “I could hear the band playing a cheery sort of music. I don’t like jazz music as a rule, but I was glad to hear it that night. I think it helped us all.”
    • p. 143
  • “They were brave and splendid, all the men. They died like brave men.”
    • p. 151
  • “The notes of this music were the last thing I heard before I went off the poop and felt myself going headlong into the icy water with the engines and machinery buzzing in my ears.”
    • pp. 151-152
  • “I shall never forget the sight of that beautiful boat as she went down, the orchestra playing to the last, the lights burning until they were extinguished by the waves. It sounds so unreal, like a scene on the stage.”
    • p. 152
  • They kept it up until the very end. Only the engulfing ocean had power to drown them into silence.
    • p. 152
  • “No praise could be sufficient for those courageous musicians whom we left behind. They were heroes to a man.”
    • p. 153
  • The final dive of the ship, as the bow lay submerged and the stern rose out of the water, was truly horrendous for all who witnessed it.
    • pp. 153-154
  • This object of great beauty—even in its stricken condition—went down with a terrifying roar…a sound that survivors later described as the most bloodcurdling they had ever heard.
    • p. 154
  • The arrival of Wallace Hartley’s body became a focal point of national grief. This young man not only represented all who had died on the Titanic, but also the values that the British feared were in decline.
    • p.162
  • “If any glory at all attaches to the awful tragedy of the sea about which the world is still talking, it circles round the heads of these heroic bandsmen who played the mighty vessel to its doom
    • p. 173
  • It wasn’t hard for people to see the Titanic as a metaphor for Western civilization’s obsessions with speed, wealth, and conquest at the expense of contemplation, sharing and the well-being of one’s neighbor.
    • pp. 188-189
  • There is not in history a more splendid and inspiring example of self-control, of self-sacrifice, of courage and of manliness.
    • p. 193
  • Not only had they behaved dutifully and without apparent concern for their own safety, but they also offered the hope that not all of the younger male generation were venial, lazy, proud, irreligious, inconsiderate, self-indulgent, weak-willed, and timorous.
    • p. 193
  • When everything on the ship was being turned upside down, the music remained the same. In the midst of mind-jarring abnormality, it was the one thing that retained its familiarity.
    • p. 194
  • For those out on the water it provided a bizarre soundtrack to a sight that so many would only be able to describe as “like watching a moving picture.”
    • p. 194
  • Wallace Hartley: “I’ve always felt that, when men are called to face death suddenly, music is are more effective in cheering them on than all the firearms in creation.”
    • p. 194

External linksEdit

Last modified on 28 April 2011, at 14:34