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Top Five Pieces About the Titanic

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One hundred years ago on April 14 the Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic and hours later, sunk to the bottom of the ocean, along with more than 1,500 passengers. Even though the ill-fated ship is below the waves, its myth has remained firmly within the public consciousness. Over the last century, the tragedy has spawned several books, movies, musicals and plenty of music. Here are five notable pieces:

1. Gavin Bryars: The Sinking of the Titanic

Gavin Bryars’s The Sinking of the Titanic was the Yorkshire-born composer’s first hit. The piece, which was written in 1969, takes inspiration from historical accounts of the ship’s resident band playing the Episcopal hymn “Autumn” as the boat was going down. Creative stagings have placed performers on a raft in a swimming pool in Brussels. The Wordless Music Orchestra will play the piece on solid ground at Le Poisson Rouge (158 Bleecker St at Thompson St) April 15 at 7:30pm.

2. William Dieter Siebert: The Sinking of the Titanic

William Dieter Siebert’s 1979 opera, The Sinking of the Titanic used a little dramaturgical ingenuity to incorporate ticket holders into the tragedy. Imaging the house as the ship and the audience as the second-class passengers about to drown, the work features a novel staging. The production premiered at the Berlin Festival and was revived in Los Angeles in 1985.

3. Robin Gibb: The Titanic Requiem

Bee Gee Robin Gibb dipped his toe into the classical music world with The Titanic Requiem, which premiered on Tuesday, April 10. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra inaugurated the commemorative without Gibb (who was reportedly in a hospital and too ill to attend the performance). Gibb composed the piece with his son RJ, "in the baroque style, the classical style, the Romantic era style," as the younger artist said. Still, you can hear the '70s icon singing the song “Don’t Cry Alone” on the album recording, which was released last month.

4. Richard Kastle: Titanic

The punk-dressing American composer Richard Kastle based his third symphony on the Titanic. The four-movement work, which premiered in 1999 at Alice Tully Hall, bases each section on a different scene from the luxury liner’s history: the optimistic departure from Southampton, England; the decision by Ida and Isador Strauss, owner of Macy’s, to die together on the ship and of course the musicians playing throughout the disaster.

5. Richard Kaufman/James Horner: Titanic score

Tapping into the popularity of James Cameron’s über-hit Titanic (which is back in movie theaters with a 3-D version, specially released in time for the centennial) and its James Horner score, Richard Kaufman arranged a 10-minute orchestral suite. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra premiered in a 1998 pops concert. Kaufman will reprise the suite with the Pacific Symphony Pops in November.