April 15, 2012 marked the 100th anniversary of the most famous maritime disaster in history, the sinking of the luxury ocean liner RMS Titanic.
The sinking of the Titanic is an epic story that has stirred up interest and emotion in countless people over the decades, as well as inspiring literature, music, art and of course, film.
While most of us are familiar with the history and events surrounding the Titanic disaster, you may be interested to know the story from a Steinway & Sons perspective.
Titanic was built as part of a massive undertaking by the White Star Line that included the building of two other ships; the Olympic and the Britannic. As transatlantic ocean liners were fast becoming a symbol of power, luxury and the achievements of modern technology, White Star Line’s three Olympic class cruisers were built to become a spectacular and crowning glory for the successful shipping line.
As the largest and most luxurious vessels afloat, no expense was spared in the construction and fitting of the three ships, and to compliment their lavish fittings, and each vessel was fitted with a full compliment of Steinway & Sons pianos.
Whilst we have no photo documentation of the pianos on board Titanic (the photo above was taken from the Olympic), we know that a total of five Steinway & Sons pianos were installed; two Model K uprights, two Model R uprights and a Model B grand that would take pride of place in the first class dining room.
The photo above shows the Steinway & Sons model B on board the RMS Olympic, virtually identical to the model B on board the Titanic. Each piano was ordered from Steinway as a “rough unfinished instrument”, so that their final cabinet work could be completed by master artisans at the Harland and Wolf shipping yards in Belfast, where Titanic was constructed.
Instead of brass castors, each piano was specially fitted with brass feet, and they were anchored to the deck to prevent the pianos from moving whilst the ship was at sea.
Non of the pianos have ever been recovered from the wreck of the Titanic, and it is safe to say that the only sign that there ever were Steinway & Sons pianos on board the magnificent vessel is most likely the remnants of the pianos iron frames.