"Teddy Bears' Picnic" is a song consisting of a melody by American composer John Walter Bratton, written in 1907, and lyrics added by Irish songwriter Jimmy Kennedy in 1932. It remains popular as a children's song, having been recorded by numerous artists over the decades. Kennedy lived at Staplegrove Elm and is buried in Staplegrove Church, Taunton, Somerset, England. Local folklore has it that the small wooded area between the church and Staplegrove Scout Hut was the inspiration for his lyrics.
Bratton composed and personally copyrighted it in 1907, and then assigned the copyright to M. Witmark & Sons, New York, who published it later that year as "The Teddy Bears Picnic. Characteristic Two Step", according to the first page of the published piano score, as well as the orchestral parts Witmark published in an arrangement by Frank Saddler. However, the illustrated sheet music cover gives the title as THE TEDDY BEARS' PICNIC, with apostrophe on "BEARS" and no genre descriptor. Irish songwriter Jimmy Kennedy wrote the now familiar lyrics for it in 1932.
After Bratton wrote "The Teddy Bears' 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 1895 "Death and Glory March". Nevertheless, charges were not filed and Bratton's song still has the same tune it had in 1907.
The first recording of the piece was by the Edison Symphony Orchestra, made at Edison Records' "New York Recording Department" studio, 79 5th Avenue, New York, in November 1907 and was released as Edison two-minute cylinder 9777 in March 1908, as announced on page 3 of the January, 1908 issue of The Edison Phonograph Monthly (vol. VI, no. 1). Arthur Pryor's Band made the work's first disc recording for the Victor Talking Machine Company in Camden, New Jersey, on September 14, 1908. Take 2 from that session was released in November 1908 as Victor single-faced disc 5594 and as side A of the company's first double-faced disc 16001, with the title on the label reading "The Teddy Bears' Picnic/Descriptive Novelty". An early UK recording was made by the Black Diamonds Band for Zonophone records in 1908.
The first vocal version was recorded in 1932 by Henry Hall and His Orchestra (EMI SH 172), with Val Rosing singing Kennedy's lyrics. The song was subsequently recorded by Bing Crosby, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Frank DeVol, Jackie Lynton, Rosemary Clooney,Dave Van Ronk, Jerry Garcia, John Inman, Trout Fishing in America, and Anne Murray.
|Title||Teddy Bear's Picnic|
|Subtitle||For Solo Tuba and Band|
|Instrumentation||Concert Band/Wind Band|
|Not available in||United Kingdom|