Captain Scott’s Desert Island Discs: A Favour of What Were the Happening Sounds in Antarctica 100 Years Ago.

Centenaries are sizeable business in 2012. It just so happens that the Olympics are coming to the United Kingdom for the third time in a year which finds us thinking very hard about if being British still means the same thing as it did 100 years when two momentous calamities singed themselves into the national psyche: the Titanic sank, and Captain Scott and his four companions never made it back from the South Pole.

Adam Sweeting has already reported on the deluge of Titanica][”] fanning across the television schedules from National Geographic docs to Drownton []. The Scott industry is spreading itself more widely across the year. As well as three exhibitions – at the Natural History Museum [] the Queen’s Gallery [] and the National Museum of Wales [] – you can also enjoy a musical flavour of what it was like to be a the bottom of the world with the Terra Nova expedition by investing in a new double-disc CD. On it is a selection of scratchy recordings Scott and co took south with them to remind them of home in the long polar night. In fact they had a library of hundreds of tunes to listen to, and the choice can do no more than suggest the range of musical tastes catered for, from Enrico Caruso to Nellie Melba, from Harry Lauder to Weber’s Concertino for clarinet. Wagner’s "Ride of the Valkyries" was on hand to gird the loins as the men prepared to strap themselves into man-hauling harnesses. For many of the jauntier tunes some of the chaps will dressed up in drag and danced along.

The records were donated to the expedition by The Gramophone Company (nowadays known as EMI), along with two splendid old gramophones, one of which is on display at the Natural History Museum’s current exhibition. The main track listing concludes with “God Save the King”. Two additional tracks include Ernest Shackleton taking about his own unsuccessful attempt on the Pole three years earlier. There is a piquant irony to its inclusion. Scott and Shackleton had history, and were not friends, although that did not stop Scott using Shackleton’s expedition journal as a useful pathfinder. The full track listing of Scott’s Music Box is as follows.

CD 1
1. The Black Diamonds Band – Dollar Princess Two Step
2. The Dollar Princess Operatic Party – Opening Chorus (The Dollar Princess)
3. George Grossmith Jr – Yip-I-Addy-I-Ay (Our Miss Gibbs)
4. Margaret Cooper – Love is meant to make us glad (Merrie England)
5. R. Kennerley Rumford – Four Jolly Sailormen (The Princess of Kensington)
6. Huntley & Carroll – The Golf Scene (Three Little Maids)
7. Yvette Guilbert – I want yer ma honey
8. Band of HM Coldstream Guards – Trafalgar March
9. Walter Miller – We all walked into the shop
10. Florrie Forde – Oh! Oh! Antonio!
11. George Robey – The Prehistoric Man
12. Harry Lauder – Stop your tickling, Jock!
13. Harry Tate – Motoring
14. Gus Elen – Wait till the work comes round
15. Olly Oakley – Anona Two-Step
16. John Coates – Take a pair of sparkling eyes (The Gondoliers)
17. Eleanor Jones Hudson – The sun whose rays are all ablaze (The Mikado)
18. The Sullivan Operatic Party – When Britain really ruled the waves (Iolanthe)
19. HM Band of the Royal Artillery – The Blue Danube Waltz
20. Stanley Kirkby – The Trumpeter
21. Harry Dearth – A Sergeant of the Line
22. Clara Butt & R. Kennerley Rumford – Night Hymn at Sea
23. Edward Lloyd – The Holy City
24. Elizabeth Dews – O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion (Messiah)
25. A Church Choir – Hark, the Herald Angels Sing

CD 2
1. Geraldine Farrar – Un bel dì vedremo (Madama Butterfly)
2. Enrico Caruso – Recitar!…Vesti la giubba (Pagliacci)
3. Nellie Melba – Waltz Song (Roméo et Juliette)
4. Titta Ruffo – Largo al factotum (Il barbiere di Siviglia)
5. Luisa Tetrazzini – Ombra leggera (Dinorah)
6. Maurice Renaud – Serenade (Don Giovanni)
7. Mattia Battistini · Emilia Corsi – Là ci darem la mano (Don Giovanni)
8. Jan Kubelík – Chanson bohème (Carmen)
9. Enrico Caruso – Mattinata
10. Nellie Melba – Nymphes et sylvains
11. Evan Williams – I’ll sing thee songs of Araby
12. Edward Lloyd – Come into the garden, Maud
13. Charles Draper – Weber: Concertino
14. La Scala Theatre Orchestra – The Ride of the Valkyries (Die Walküre)
15. Joseph Szigeti – Bach: Prelude (Partita No.3)
16. Wilhelm Backhaus – The Harmonious Blacksmith
17. Peter Dawson – Rule Britannia
18. Ernest Pike – The Light of the World
19. Robert Radford – Honour and Arms (Samson)
20. Clara Butt – Abide with me
21. Band of H. M. Coldstream Guards – God Save the King

1. Major Sir Ernest Shackleton – The Dash for the South Pole
2. Stanley Kirkby – ’Tis a story that shall live forever

Scott’s Music Box is released on 14 May

Royal Geographical Society: “Books contained in a box labeled ‘Books used on board Discovery no. 1’.”

The vicomte de Bragelonne by A. Dumas
Owd Bob by Alfred Ollivant
Emerson’s Essays (Selections)
The Newcomes by Thackeray
Vixen by Miss Braddon
The Poetical works of Robert Burns vol. III
(entry on fly-leaf, The Discovery from H.R.M.)
Poems of Alfred Lord Tennyson
(entry on fly-leaf R.F.S. 1901)
The Primrose Path by Miss Oliphant
(entry printed in pencil on fly-leaf: “This book was part of the library of the Terra Nova captain R. F. Scott)
The Egoist by G. Meredith
Diana of the Crossways by G. Meredith
Round the World on a Wheel by J. Foster Fraser
(These three books have on the fly-leaf, R. Scott Terra Nova 1910,
not in Capt. Scott’s hand.
Slip of paper, bookmark?, found in Diana of the Crossways with tiny drawings of a bird and some insects, with initials P.M.S. H.R.M. is Hugh Robert Mill, meteorologist & friend of W.S. Bruce. [courtesy Innes Kinreigh]
Read through leaf 455—may return to it, but not too promising for reading matter. DS