We are talking about him: the famous Titanic violin, who did not stop playing the last notes of “Nearer my God to thee” (“Closer to you, my God”), while the transatlantic was already taking water and his passengers were descending in the lifeboats. The musicians, little heroes without glory, continued to accompany the swaying rooms with their music, trying to comfort the souls of those who already knew his destiny.
Wallace Hartley, director of the ensemble, was the owner of the precious violin, received as a gift from his betrothed, Maria Robinson. The engraving on a silver plate, placed on the handle, shows these words: “For Wallace, on the occasion of our engagement, from Maria”. This moving testimony of a small, simple story re-emerged from the abyss, is the irrefutable proof of the historical authenticity of the violin. But he also explains, in the most poignant way, why the instrument had been found in the case, tied over the shoulder to the drowned body of Wallace, who, as his mother testified, could never have separated from it.
A few days after the sinking, the violin was recovered and returned to Maria Robinson and, after her death, donated by her sister to the Salvation Army Band. From here it was collected by a music teacher from Lancashire (England), in whose attic the recent discovery took place. It took a good seven years of analysis, before being able to announce with certainty that it was really “that violin”. After the investigation, in 2013, the heirloom was first exhibited in the Belfast Museum and then auctioned off to a British collector, for an incredible 900 thousand pounds (estimated price: 2-300 thousand euros).
The violin, made of rosewood, in the Germany of 1880, shows an aspect, to say the least “lived”: on the body of the instrument only two strings, some crack and the unique charm of a timeless story.
If you want to relive the suggestion of myth, here are some excerpts from the CD “Titanic Song Book” , which collects authentic songs played by the small Titanic orchestra. The only way to give voice to Wallace’s violin left forever without sound.