Tune of the Day: Happy Birthday to You
The melody of “Happy Birthday to You” comes from the song “Good Morning to All”, which was written and composed by American sisters Patty Hill and Mildred J. Hill in 1893. They were both kindergarten school teachers in Louisville, Kentucky, and they created “Good Morning to All” as a song that would be easy to sing by young children. The combination of melody and lyrics in “Happy Birthday to You” first appeared in print in 1912, and probably existed even earlier.
According to some research, “Happy Birthday” is the most recognized song in the English language, followed by “For He's a Jolly Good Fellow” and “Auld Lang Syne”.
And now for the fun facts. None of the early appearances of the song included credits or copyright notices. For this reason, the Summy Company was able to register for copyright in 1935, crediting authors Preston Ware Orem and Mrs. R.R. Forman. In 1990, Warner Chappell purchased the company owning the copyright for $15 million, with the value of “Happy Birthday” estimated at $5 million! Based on the 1935 copyright registration, Warner claims that U.S. copyright will not expire until 2030, and that unauthorized public performances of the song are technically illegal unless royalties are paid to it. Believe it or not, the song continues to bring in approximately 2 million dollars in licensing revenue each year!