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TITANIC violin. Willit play??

Anglogeezer 15 Mar 13 - 04:16 PM
JohnInKansas 15 Mar 13 - 04:33 PM
Steve Gardham 15 Mar 13 - 04:47 PM
Megan L 15 Mar 13 - 05:01 PM
terrier 15 Mar 13 - 05:20 PM
JohnInKansas 15 Mar 13 - 08:29 PM
GUEST,Marianne S. 16 Mar 13 - 12:37 PM
Little Robyn 16 Mar 13 - 03:25 PM
GUEST,Grishka 16 Mar 13 - 07:14 PM
GUEST,Grishka 17 Mar 13 - 11:02 AM
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Subject: TITANIC violin. Willit play??
From: Anglogeezer
Date: 15 Mar 13 - 04:16 PM

The violin that belonged to Wallace Hartley, the band leader on the TITANIC, has been discovered in an attic in Bridlington, East Yorkshire.

see here - Titanic fiddle

The question is ... will it play??

Jake


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Subject: RE: TITANIC violin. Willit play??
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 15 Mar 13 - 04:33 PM

It's unlikely to sound really great in its present condition, since there's no bridge and only two strings on it. (At a guess, the sound post also tipped over and got lost?)

The real question is "What happened to his bow?".

In all likelihood, if his body was found with the violin attached, it shouldn't have been in the water for too long, and 80 or 90 years should have been long enough for it be quite satisfactorily dried out. The picture shows what appears to be a fairly well-preserved body, but of course there'd be a difficult decision over whether to replace the missing pieces (and destroy some of it's "historic" value) or whether having it playable would make it even more "collectible."

(There is reported to be at least one Strad that's considered "unrepairable and unplayable." Nobody knows why they keep that piece of junk.)

John


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Subject: RE: TITANIC violin. Willit play??
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Mar 13 - 04:47 PM

Only 'Nearer My God To Thee'!


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Subject: RE: TITANIC violin. Willit play??
From: Megan L
Date: 15 Mar 13 - 05:01 PM

It should be perfectly possible to restore it sympatetically as they did recently with John Raes fiddle


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Subject: RE: TITANIC violin. Willit play??
From: terrier
Date: 15 Mar 13 - 05:20 PM

It would probably draw the line at Handel's 'Water Music suite'. I'm surprised that it still is in one piece as the glue holding it together was probably water based, or maybe the water was so cold, it didn't dissolve the glue. We used to leave old defunct pianos out in the rain for a few days, after which time they would literally fall apart. It saved a lot of hard work pulling them apart.


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Subject: RE: TITANIC violin. Willit play??
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 15 Mar 13 - 08:29 PM

The hide glue mostly used for fiddles may be softened by water, but it would take a fairly long term of soaking to make it come apart, especially without heat. If the fiddler's body was recovered at all, it was probably picked up within a very few days at most, so there wasn't likely a very long "wet time."

To "make playable" if there was no fear of destroying "artifact value" a normal procedure would be to (almost) completely disassemble everything and put all the pieces back together. For some fussy players with "treasure" violins this is almost an annual maintenance.

Although the bandleader would likely have had a "better than student grade" instrument it's unlikely that even with excellent restoration this one is likely to be much more than "about average" quality - for dance band players. I'd expect this one to end up in a glass case, while the new owner gets a plywood Chinese one to play if so inclined.

And anyone who can afford this one probably has a Guarneri, two Amatis, and maybe an old Strad to practice on, and doesn't need to fix this one. Likely, it's only real value is that it's "something from the big ship," just like an old teacup.

John


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Subject: RE: TITANIC violin. Willit play??
From: GUEST,Marianne S.
Date: 16 Mar 13 - 12:37 PM

I'm a bit puzzled. Apparently the violin was found strapped to the body. It was in a leather suitcase - not a violin case, I've seen the picture. It's just about big enough for the violin but not big enough for a bow. A titanorak friend says that there was a careful inventory made of items found with the bodies, but it didn't include a violin. So where did thisa violin come from?


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Subject: RE: TITANIC violin. Willit play??
From: Little Robyn
Date: 16 Mar 13 - 03:25 PM

According to the newspaper report, his body was found after about 10 days. Is that long enough to dissolve the glue?
I can't visualize how he could strap a case to himself, that would survive the plunge into the sea. Was he using it as a flotation aid?
And when would he have had time to find a suitcase - or was it someone elses, that was left behind in the chaos? I would have thought that most musicians keep their instrument cases close by, so when the band headed up to the deck, they would have already put their precious instruments in their cases. Yes, I know they took them out again and played outside, but after they finished, wouldn't they have had time to return them to the 'safety' of their own cases? What would you have done with your special instrument? And where would he find a strap long enough to go around himself and a case - or did he just loop his belt through the handle of the case? I think the bass player would have had more chance of floating!
A fascinating story.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: TITANIC violin. Willit play??
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 16 Mar 13 - 07:14 PM

All reports say the following:
  • There was no violin with the fiddler's body
  • His violin was found somewhere and sent to the woman who had been his fiancée, who sent a telegram of gratitude.
Nothing about a drop of water, and no expression of doubt that the violin was the real one.

The instrument now found may or may not be the same one. With so much money to be won, "hoax" is quite the wrong category; "forgery" would be the correct word.

Will it play? It might (genuine or not), but it will give its best music in the imagination of Titanic mystics. The Titanic orchestra - what a powerful symbol!


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Subject: RE: TITANIC violin. Willit play??
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 17 Mar 13 - 11:02 AM

Update, on further reading: the violin now under inspection does have some damage (spots) from ocean water, and two fissures.

If it is the genuine instrument, the fissures may have come about later, after the fiancée's own death. Any luthier could repair it, if that were desired. However, the music of doomsday, danse macabre, is best enjoyed in total silence, shudderingly staring at the relics.


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