Hearts and Flowers

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Hearts and Flowers (Instrumental violin version) by the Victor Orchestra, recorded in 1908

"Hearts and Flowers" (subtitle: "A New Flower Song") is a song composed by Theodore Moses-Tobani (with words by Mary D. Brine) and published in 1893 by Carl Fischer Music.

The famous melody is taken from the introductory 2/4 section of "Wintermärchen" Waltzes Op. 366 (1891) by the Hungarian composer Alphons Czibulka. Tobani arranged the piece in a 4/4 song form as Hearts and Flowers, a New Flower Song, Op. 245. The song as a vocal number was soon forgotten but the instrumental version gained popularity in its own right and it is in this form that it remains well known to this day. Tobani also arranged the tune as a waltz, featured in a medley published in 1900 entitled Beauties Charms, although this arrangement is now seldom heard.

"Hearts and Flowers" has an association in popular culture as melodramatic photoplay music. The practice of using the selection as a dramatic cue is documented as early as 1911,[1] although complaints that the tune was becoming overplayed crop up as early as 1913 [2] and 1914,[3] and by 1915, the piece was being called "time worn".[4]

Soon thereafter, "Hearts and Flowers" (along with Gustav Lange's "Flower Song") became more commonly associated with underscoring an over-the-top parody of melodrama in film. Around 1919, musical accompaniment cue sheets start suggesting the tune "a la burlesque" to mock-dramatic scenes.[5] Even into the late 1920s, "Hearts and Flowers" continued to be suggested as a burlesque dramatic piece.[6]

"Hearts and Flowers" was not only heard in theater as accompaniment to films, but played an integral part of on-set music for actors. Viola Dana famously requested the tune to be played in order for her to generate enough emotion for her to cry real tears.[7] This was later parodied in the 1928 film Show People with Marion Davies.

The term 'hearts-and-flowers' has entered the English language with the sense "extreme sentimentality, cloying sweetness".[8]

There is a reference to "Hearts and Flowers" in Amazing Spider-Man #45, published February, 1967.


  1. ^ Sinn, Clarence E., "Music for the Picture." Moving Picture World, 14 January 1911, P. 76. Sinn recommends "Hearts and Flowers" in his musical suggestions for the Imp drama, "The Wise Druggist."
  2. ^ "Just a Moment Please." Motiography, 20 September 1913, P. 210. A correspondent from Chicago complains about the pianist playing only "Hearts and Flowers" as accompaniment.
  3. ^ Sinn, Clarence E., "Music for the Picture." Moving Picture World, 11 July 1914, P. 292. Critic Sinn calls the piece "an old standby" and suggests those using it refresh their library.
  4. ^ Sinn, Clarence E., "Music for the Picture." Moving Picture World, 18 September 1915, P. 1984
  5. ^ Cue sheet to "That's Good," prepared by S. M. Berg, from "Musical Cue Sheets of Current Releases." Moving Picture World, 12 April 1919, P. 248.
  6. ^ Bradford, James C. Cue sheet to "Speedy," 1927, Thematic Music Cue Sheet Co.
  7. ^ Mel. "What Did She Mean?" Motiography. 29 September 1917, P. 648.
  8. ^ New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary

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