Soothing Music

MUSIC, for the most part, has a positive effect on people.

And, if there was ever a place where music was needed to help, it was in 1912 when the Titanic sank into the freezing waters of the Atlantic, and 1,517 people died when the mighty vessel struck an iceberg.

Just this month, a violin which belonged to bandmaster Wallace Henry Hartley was sold for $1.45 million, which is more than twice the amount expected and the highest price received for a Titanic artifact. Karla Adam reported in The Washington Post that the unidentified buyer paid nearly $1.7 after taxes and the commission were added.

One of the reasons given for its authenticity was a silver plate screwed into the base with the engraving: “For Wallace on the occasion of our engagement. From Maria.” Hartley’s fiancee wrote in her diary that the violin had been saved and returned to her.

According to legend, Wallace and the other musicians played “Nearer, My God, to Thee” as the passenger liner was sinking. That selection wouldn’t be too surprising as the bandmaster/violinist was the son of a chapel choirmaster.

But that isn’t the only music associated with the Titanic.

In August of this year, computed tomography was done so a tune could be retrieved from a pig-shaped music box, which was aboard one of the Titanic’s lifeboats.

It belonged to Edith Rosenbaum, who later changed her name to Edith Russell and was a fashion writer/stylist. In a 1970 interview, she said, “I never would have left the ship, but a sailor came along and he said, ‘Say you, you don’t want to be saved, well, I’ll save your baby,’ and he grabbed this pig from under my arm and he tossed it in the lifeboat … when they threw that pig, I knew it was my mother calling me.”

The musical pig now in the National Maritime Museum not only is credited with saving his owner’s life, but he helped to distract children in the lifeboat for at least seven hours before they were rescued by the Carpathia.

STUDIES have shown one of music’s positive effects results in health benefits.

The right kind of music can be soothing – even if one’s not on the Titanic.