Sing or Play Happy Birthday Whenever You Want

happy birthday

 

You’re legal now!

None of the companies that have collected royalties on the “Happy Birthday” song for the past 80 years held a valid copyright claim to one of the most popular songs in history, a federal judge in Los Angeles ruled on Tuesday.

In a stunning reversal of decades of copyright claims, the judge ruled that Warner/Chappell never had the right to charge for the use of the “Happy Birthday To You” song. Warner had been enforcing a copyright since 1988, when it bought Birch Tree Group, the successor to Clayton F. Summy Co., which claimed the original disputed copyright.

Judge George H. King ruled that a copyright filed by the Summy Co. in 1935 granted only the rights to specific piano arrangements of the music, not the actual song.

Read more at http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-happy-birthday-song-lawsuit-decision-20150922-story.html

The following version is in the O’Connor Music Studio library, if you wish to borrow it.  It is also available on amazon.com

June 5 ~ Daily Listening Assignment

 

Happy Birthday is a song that I like to have each of my students learn at various levels appropriate to their level. When a friend or family member has a birthday, it’s great to be able to sit down and play.

 

It’s only been fairly recently that piano students could have this music in their books.

“Happy Birthday to You”, more commonly known as simply “Happy Birthday”, is a song that is traditionally sung to celebrate the anniversary of a person’s birth. According to the 1998 Guinness World Records, “Happy Birthday to You” is the most recognized song in the English language, followed by “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”.

The melody, or part you sing, of “Happy Birthday to You” comes from the song “Good Morning to All”, which has traditionally been attributed to American sisters Patty and Mildred J. Hill in 1893, although the claim that the sisters composed the tune is disputed.

Patty Hill was a kindergarten principal and her sister Mildred was a pianist and composer.  The sisters used “Good Morning to All” as a song that young children would find easy to sing.  The combination of melody and lyrics in “Happy Birthday to You” first appeared in print in 1912, and probably existed even earlier.

“Happy Birthday” in the style of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Liszt, Dvorak, and Stravinsky.  Find the melody!

 

Lots of legal stuff below which you can skip…

None of the early appearances of the “Happy Birthday to You” lyrics included credits or copyright notices. The Summy Company registered a copyright in 1935, crediting authors Preston Ware Orem and Mrs. R. R. Forman. In 1988, Warner/Chappell Music purchased the company owning the copyright for US$25 million, with the value of “Happy Birthday” estimated at US$5 million. Based on the 1935 copyright registration, Warner claimed that the United States copyright will not expire until 2030, and that unauthorized public performances of the song are illegal unless royalties are paid to Warner. In one specific instance in February 2010, these royalties were said to amount to US$700. By one estimate, the song is the highest-earning single song in history, with estimated earnings since its creation of US$50 million.In the European Union, the copyright for the song expired on January 1, 2017.

The American copyright status of “Happy Birthday to You” began to draw more attention with the passage of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act in 1998. When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Act in Eldred v. Ashcroft in 2003, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer specifically mentioned “Happy Birthday to You” in his dissenting opinion. American law professor Robert Brauneis, who extensively researched the song, concluded in 2010 that “It is almost certainly no longer under copyright.”

In 2013, based in large part on Brauneis’s research, Good Morning to You Productions, a company producing a documentary about “Good Morning to All”, sued Warner/Chappell for falsely claiming copyright to the song.  In September 2015, a federal judge declared that the Warner/Chappell copyright claim was invalid, ruling that the copyright registration applied only to a specific piano arrangement of the song, and not to its lyrics and melody.

In 2016, Warner/Chappell settled for US $14 million, and the court declared that “Happy Birthday to You” was in the public domain.

Legal stuff is finished and people can now sing and play “Happy Birthday to You” whenever and wherever they want.

One of my all-time versions of Happy Birthday, in duet form – and I have the music if you want to tackle it.

 

 

Happy Birthday to Felix Mendelssohn

mendelssohn-birthday

 

Felix Bartholdy Mendelssohn lived between 1809 and 1847. He is considered to be a romantic composer and pianist best known for his symphonies and concert overtures. Mendelssohn played the piano in public by the age of nine, so he was often compared to Mozart.

He composed works for solo instruments and orchestra, and German songs. Some of his better known works are the Wedding March, Elijah and Fingal’s Cave. Felix Mendelssohn, along with Hector Berlioz was one of the first conductors of a large orchestra.

Mendelssohn harmonized the works of other composers, including Johann Crüger. Listen to Mendelssohn’s harmonization of Now Thank We All our God:

One of my favorites, Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in g minor, op. 25:

     Read more about Mendelssohn in the Baroque section

     Mendelssohn’s birthday

     Listen to Mendelssohn’s music.

     Read information about Mendelssohn’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

     First performance date of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” as the Wedding March

     Read information about a Mendelssohn family Stradivari violin.

 

Happy Birthday, Alfred Brendel

brendel
Alfred Brendel was born in 1931 in Wiesenberg, Czech Republic.

After World War II, Brendel composed music, as well as continuing to play the piano, to write and to paint. However, he never had more formal piano lessons and, although he attended master classes with Edwin Fischer and Eduard Steuermann, he was largely self-taught after the age of six.

He made his debut in Graz (1948), and has since performed widely throughout Austria, where he lives.

He is known for his interpretations of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Liszt, and Schoenberg. He tours internationally, and has written many essays on music.

A short insight from Alfred Brendel on his recording career:

Happy Birthday Bartolomeo Cristofori!

The inventor of the piano, Bartolomeo Cristofori, is celebrated in last year’s Google Doodle.

Born on 4 May, 1655 in Padua, northern Italy, Cristofori initially worked making harpsichords and clavichords and was employed by Prince Ferdinando de Medici, son of the duke of Tuscany.

He is believed to have started work on what would become a piano in the 1690s and the first one is thought to have been made in 1709.

In a harpsichord the strings are plucked, so it is not possible to play the notes softer or louder. Cristofori managed to design a mechanism that transferred the pressure placed on the keys to the hammers that hit the strings.

He called his invention a “gravecembalo col piano e forte” – a clavichord with soft and loud. The name was shortened to pianoforte and then simply piano.

Francesco Mannucci, a musician at the Medici court, described one early version as “a large ‘Arpicembalo’ [the name of a type of harpsichord] by Bartolomeo Cristofori, of new invention that produces soft and loud, with two sets of strings at unison pitch, with soundboard of cypress without rose”.

Bartolomeo Cristofori

Bartolomeo Cristofori di Francesco was an Italian maker of musical instruments, generally regarded as the inventor of the piano.

While other musical instrument makers had attempted to solve the same problem with the harpsichord, Cristofori’s invention is generally regarded as the first real piano.

However, the piano was not popular at first and many felt it was too difficult to play. Cristofori died largely uncelebrated for an invention that would later change the musical world in 1731 – a year before the first sheet music for the piano appeared.

via Who invented the piano? Bartolomeo Cristofori’s birthday celebrated in today’s Google doodle – News – Gadgets and Tech – The Independent.

Happy Birthday, Felix Mendelssohn

mendelssohn-birthday

 

Felix Bartholdy Mendelssohn lived between 1809 and 1847. He is considered to be a romantic composer and pianist best known for his symphonies and concert overtures. Mendelssohn played the piano in public by the age of nine, so he was often compared to Mozart.

He composed works for solo instruments and orchestra, and German songs. Some of his better known works are the Wedding March, Elijah and Fingal’s Cave. Felix Mendelssohn, along with Hector Berlioz was one of the first conductors of a large orchestra.

Mendelssohn harmonized the works of other composers, including Johann Crüger. Listen to Mendelssohn’s harmonization of Now Thank We All our God:


One of my favorites,Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in g minor, op. 25:

     Read more about Mendelssohn in the Baroque section

     Mendelssohn’s birthday

     Listen to Mendelssohn’s music.

     Read information about Mendelssohn’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

     First performance date of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” as the Wedding March

     Read information about a Mendelssohn family Stradivari violin.

 

Mozart Music Playlist

mozart-happy-birthday

 

3 Hours of music by Mozart

Playlist

00:00 Sinfonia N.40 in sol minore – I. Molto allegro
05:58 Sinfonia N.40 in sol minore – II. Andante
13:55 Sinfonia N.40 in sol minore – III. Minuetto allegretto
18:08 Sinfonia N.40 in sol minore – IV. Finale Allegro assai
22:42 Symphony No. 38 in D ‘Prague’, K. 504 – I. Adagio-Allegro
36:28 Symphony No. 38 in D ‘Prague’, K. 504 – III. Finale (Presto)
44:29 Symphony no. 36 in C ‘Linz’, K. 425 – I. Adagio – Allegro spiritoso
55:01 Symphony no. 36 in C ‘Linz’, K. 425 – III. Menuetto
1:05:34 Symphony no. 17 in G, K. 129
1:18:55 Overture to The Magic Flute, K. 620
1:25:36 Flute Concerto in D, K. 314
1:44:17 String Quartet No. 15 In D Minor, K 421 – I. Allegro Moderato
1:51:58 String Quartet No. 15 In D Minor, K 421 – II. Andante
1:57:13 String Quartet No. 15 In D Minor, K 421 – III. Minuetto
2:01:26 String Quartet No. 15 In D Minor, K 421 – IV. Allegro Ma Non Troppo
2:08:04 Quintet in Eb, K.452
2:44:27 Piano Quartet in Gm, K. 478