100 years of the Titanic
On 31 May 1911 the RMS Titanic was launched in Belfast by Harland & Wolff, the largest shipbuilders in the world. The passenger liner sank after hitting an iceberg on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on 16 April 1912.
On 28 March 1912, the LSO embarked on a famous three-week tour to the United States of America and Canada, the first British orchestra to visit those distant shores. Legend has it that the LSO narrowly avoided sailing on the ill-fated maiden voyage of the Titanic. The tour started a week early due to the rescheduling of some of the concerts - no doubt an inconvenience at the time, but because of this new travel plans had to be made. Tickets for the Titanic were exchanged for the SS Baltic.
The tour was conducted by Artur Nikisch who, with his band of ninety-nine men and one woman, travelled across North America in a special eight-car Pullman train. Visits were made to New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, St Louis, Kansas City, Wichita, Des Moines, Madison, Milwaukee, Oxford OH, Cincinnati, Toledo, Detroit, Buffalo, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Boston and Providence.
A diary kept by the timpanist Charles Turner records the moment the players were informed of the tragedy whilst in St Louis on 16 April:
'We hear here about the White Star line "Titanic” going down. It causes great concern.'
The LSO later performed in a memorial concert at the Royal Albert Hall on 24 May 1912 for those who lost their lives on the Titanic, alongside The Philharmonic Orchestra, The Queen's Hall Orchestra, The New Symphony Orchestra, The Beecham Symphony Orchestra, The Royal Opera Orchestra and The London Opera House Orchestra. The orchestras were conducted by Edward Elgar, Henry Wood, Landon Ronald, Thomas Beecham, Percy Pit, Fritz Ernaldy and Willem Mengelberg, and the soprano soloist was Ada Crossley.
To commemorate this tour, we have taken Charles Turner's diary and updated it for the 21st century by editing it to a series of tweets of 140 characters each. You can follow the diary in real time at http://twitter.com/lsoontour1912