George Jervis Rubini composed these waltzes in 1876 to honour the heroism of those involved in an ill-fated venture to the North Pole. In 1875 the Admiralty gave Sir John Strong Nares command of the HMS Discovery and HMS Alert, issuing him the task of successfully reaching the Pole. Scurvy, lack of equipment and bitter arctic weather conditions all forced Nares to abandon the expedition.
“Of all the melancholy and mournful duties I have ever been called upon to perform, this has been the saddest”, proclaimed Nares following the death of crewman Porter. Though the voyage ended in failure the struggles of the crew were widely celebrated.