Paris luthier casts renewed doubt over ‘Titanic violin’

Paris luthier casts renewed doubt over ‘Titanic violin’


norman lebrecht

October 16, 2013

The Paris instrument maker Frédéric Levi has been following with professional interest the story of Wallace Hartley’s violin that supposedly went down with the Titanic. M Levi does not dispute the various tests that have been carried out on the instrument over the past seven years, but he poses a simple question:  why has the object not been presented for examination to a qualified luthier?



M Levi has been in touch with the auctioneers and told them that he finds various inconsistencies with the story of the violin – the state of preservation, tempering of the  varnish and more.

He adds that, in his experience, immersion in water would not cause cracks on the front , and that traces of glue suggest  attempts at repair that were not connected to any immersion. His concerns add a further dimension of doubt.

The mass media, meanwhile, continue to repeat unfounded claims and speculative values.




  • Tangentially, I came across the following:

    “Following the disaster, the relatives of at least one but probably all of the musicians received an invoice and statement from the shipping agency. Incredibly, the statement explained that since the deceased musician’s contract had terminated at the moment the band could no longer play, his wages, reduced pro-rata, were insufficient to meet expenses incurred on his behalf, including White Star lapel insignias for his bandsman’s tunic, sewing White Star buttons on his uniform and his sheet music. This was conveyed without any expression of sympathy or regret.”

    – John Swift, former Secretary of the Musicians Union of Ireland

    Rest of the post here: