Tune of the Day: The Teddy Bears' Picnic
This popular piece was written by American composer John Walter Bratton in 1907. Despite its frivolous sounding title, the song is actually quite a sophisticated piece of classical music. It is the only purely instrumental song in Bratton's repertoire, and the only one that became a lasting hit. In fact, the bouncy march music has been recorded by several artists since it was written, appearing as incidental music in TV series, commercials and films. The artists who have recorded it range from Bing Crosby to Jerry Garcia. Even Theodore Roosevelt used the music as his re-election campaign theme.
After Bratton wrote “The Teddy Bear's Picnic”, however, many people felt that the composer plagiarized portions of the melody. Music aficionados pointed out in particular that the refrain echoed the theme from Robert Browne Hall's “Death and Glory March”, which was composed in 1895. Nevertheless, charges were not filed and Bratton's song still has the same tune it had in 1907.