On April 15, 2016, several Dutton family members were privileged to pay homage to the lives lost on the Titanic on the anniversary of the ship’s sinking over a century ago.
The Duttons visited the Titanic Museum in Branson, Missouri, which currently houses the violin of Titanic bandmaster Wallace Hartley. With special permission, the Duttons were allowed to play “Nearer, My God, to Thee” to honor Mr. Hartley, his bandmates, and all who perished that night.
While it is not verified as fact, it is widely accepted that this song was played by Hartley and his band as the great ship sank. The Duttons, including Amy, Abby, Tim, and Jon on violins, and Ben on the cello, performed a moving rendition of the song in front of the Hartley violin display.
Ben Dutton said they all felt so moved to be able to perform at the exhibit:
“As we played ‘Nearer, My God, to Thee’ around Wallace Hartley’s violin, it was almost as if he was there with us. To think that he and the other musicians chose to play their music as the ship was sinking is a testament to the power of music. We all gained a deeper appreciation for what happened that night on the Titanic and the amazing people that were aboard.”
The treasured violin was found in a protective case on the body of Wallace Hartley 10 days after the ship sank, and was eventually returned to his grieving fiance. It was then passed through different ownership, eventually landing at auction and selling for 1.7 million dollars to a private collector. The violin is on loan to be displayed at the Branson museum.