The Steamboat, the Nutcracker and Cher Dumollet: Bon voyage and Happy Christmas

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On Christmas day of all days, I’ve had possibly the most interesting comment ever posted on my blog with regard to the score of the Nutcracker. Jesse Kleinman has pointed out the similarity between what is normally cited as the source for the contredanse in Act 1 of Nutcracker  (Bon Voyage, Cher Dumollet) and the New England song The Steamboat Quickstep. Both songs are nominally about boats, so is the New England song a borrowing from the French song via The Nutcracker? Maybe. But as Jesse points out, “It’s possible that Steamboat originated in Scotland and went to both France and New England”.

The Nutcracker and The Steamboat Quickstep: it’s an extraordinary connection. Even stranger is when you see the same tune turn up in Basque dancing.