Disasters from History

The Band Plays On

Justin Ordway published on

It is commonly believed that the final song played aboard Titanic, as she began her final plunge to the bottom, was "Nearer My God To Thee". The idea of this being Titanic's final song is poetic and fitting. However, Harold Bride, Titanic's surviving wireless telegraph operator, was among the last people aboard the ship as she disappeared beneath the surface, and when asked what song he heard the bandsmen play last, he replied "Autumn". Bride's testimony was considered credible, and for years it was believed that the hymn was the last score heard by Titanic's victims. Walter Lord, a Titanic historian and author, pointed out that hymns are not known by their musical qualities, but rather by the first line of their lyrics. With this revelation, it has been determined to be very likely that Bride was actually referring to the Waltz "Songe d'Automne" (French for "dream of autumn"), which was a popular song at the time and was often requested to be played aboard ships. And so, with the knowledge we do have of the Titanic disaster, it is most likely that Songe d'Automne was the final song played aboard Titanic.


In this episode, you'll hear the story of the heroism that Titanic's eight bandsmen displayed during the final hour before the world's greatest ship would disappear forever beneath the waves.


Music used: Songe d'Automne - Ian Whitcomb

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