Okay … no one wanted to play the game? No guesses at all? I’ll post the answer below, then.

Here is what I wrote yesterday, to save you some scrolling (I’m just that nice):

I just read this:

A theme running through all four movements was used in the Broadway musical “Showboat” and was “Cotton Blossom,” which was the name of the showboat.

The reviewer is writing about a very famous symphony. Before I name it, though, I’m wondering if anyone immediately knows what symphony it is. Do tell!

… but maybe no one is reading this blog because there were no takers. Or maybe the reviewer is totally of her rocker and no one answered because she’s so wrong. Dunno!

According to the reviewer, Dvorak’s New World Symphony is quoted in Showboat. I sure didn’t hear it when I listened to a bit of the musical. Am I missing something?


  1. patti with an i

    I just found a bit of a recording of that song online, and the refrain does set the words “Cotton Blossom” to the same notes as the head of the 1st movement’s second theme. However, I know of no reliable source linking the two directly.

  2. I have heard that Dvorak made his theme sound LIKE a spiritual, and since then words have been put to the music and it has been performed as a spiritual. This is totally hearsay and speculation on my part, but if it sounds like a spiritual, does that make it a spiritual? Of course we all love the theme because he wrote it for the greatest of all instruments.

  3. I’ve heard the same, Jill.

    And yeah, it’s all about the English horn! 🙂

  4. patti with an i

    OK, but I think you two are now talking about the big English horn tune in the slow movement. “Cotton Blossom” doesn’t use that tune. It uses the same notes as the opening of the first movement second theme, which does recur throughout the symphony, though I’m not sure whether the EH ever has it. I think the first instrument to state it is the flute. For lack of another way to describe it here, go to the piano (or whatever) and play a C dotted half note, C quarter note, A quarter note, G dotted half note. The words “Cot – ton Blos-som”, in the eponymous song from Show Boat, are set to those intervals.

    Whether or not Kern intended to make that connection is still a mystery, at least to me.

  5. Yep, I was referring to the second movement, patti with an i, and I knew that the reviewer was, in that little quote, talking about the first. We were just moving on … because sometimes ya just gotta. (The EH ONLY plays the solos … nothing more … it’s actually in one of the oboe parts, although a lot of orchestras hire 3 players. When I play it I usually assist the principal once I’m done with the second movement.)

    As to “Cotton Blossom” … I really think the reviewer is stretching it a bit to suggest it came from D’s symphony. I think she likes to hear “tunes” in symphonic works though … she also hears “Three Blind Mice” in the symphony. (Hmmm. Which came first?)

    The reviewer also says that the oboe and EH have “necks”. I’ve never heard that before! But now I know that the EH neck is different than the oboe neck. News I can use! (I suppose that the top part of our instrument could be called a neck … just never thought of it that way.)

    Ramble ramble over & out!