Mildred J. Hill

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Mildred J. Hill
Born (1859-06-27)June 27, 1859
Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Died June 5, 1916(1916-06-05) (aged 56)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Resting place
Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky
Nationality American
Occupation
Known for Composing "Happy Birthday to You"
Relatives Patty Hill (sister)

Mildred J. Hill (June 27, 1859 – June 5, 1916) was an American songwriter and musicologist, who composed the melody for "Good Morning to All", later used as the melody for "Happy Birthday to You".[1]

Biography[edit]

Mildred J. Hill, born in Louisville, Kentucky, was the oldest of three sisters, Mildred, Patty, and Jessica. She learned music from her father, Calvin Cody, and Adolph Weidig.

It has been reported that Mildred Hill was a kindergarten and Sunday-school teacher, like her younger sister Patty.[citation needed] Prof. Robert Brauneis, after extensively researching the Hill family, has concluded that she was not a kindergarten teacher.[2] She moved into music, teaching, composing, performing, and specializing in the study of Negro spirituals. Hill and her sister were honored at the Chicago World's Fair for their work in the progressive education program at the experimental kindergarten, the Louisville Experimental Kindergarten School.

She wrote about music using the pen name Johann Tonsor,[3] and her 1892 article "Negro Music", suggesting that the existing body of black music would be the basis of a distinctive American musical style, influenced Dvořák in composing the New World Symphony.[4]

Hill died in Chicago, Illinois, in 1916,[5] long before her song became famous. She is buried with her sister in Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky.

"Happy Birthday to You"[edit]

Main article: Happy Birthday to You

While teaching at the Louisville Experimental Kindergarten School, the Hill sisters wrote the song "Good Morning to All"; Mildred wrote the melody, and Patty the lyrics. The song was first published in 1893 in Song Stories for the Kindergarten[6] as a greeting song for teachers to sing to their students.[7]

"Happy Birthday to You" first appeared in print in 1912 using the melody of "Good Morning to All" with different lyrics.[8] Its popularity continued to grow through the 1930s, with no author identified for the new lyrics, nor credit given for the melody from "Good Morning to You". Based on 1935 copyright registrations by the Summy Company, and a series of court cases (which all settled out of court),[9] the sisters became known as the authors of "Happy Birthday to You". The Hill Foundation today shares royalties on public performances of the song.

Hill and her sister were posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame on June 12, 1996.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ James J. Fuld (2000). The Book of World-famous Music: Classical, Popular, and Folk. Courier Dover Publications. pp. 267–. ISBN 978-0-486-41475-1. 
  2. ^ "Copyright and the World's Most Popular Song." Robert Brauneis. October 14, 2010. Retrieved July 4, 2013.
  3. ^ Simon Russell Beale (2011-11-17). "New Nations and New Worlds". Symphony. Episode 3. BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01778mc. Retrieved 2011-11-17.
  4. ^ Michael Beckerman (17 November 2002). "MUSIC; Dvorak as Prime Mover, Sitting Duck and More". New York Times. Retrieved 16 March 2012. 
  5. ^ Fuld, James J. (2000). The Book of World-Famous Music: Classical, Popular and Folk. Courier Dover Publications. p. 267. Retrieved April 4, 2013. 
  6. ^ Hill, Mildred J. (1896). Song Stories for the Kindergarten. Internet Archive. Retrieved 2013-12-07. 
  7. ^ Brauneis, Robert (2008-03-21), Copyright and the World's Most Popular Song, pp. 4–15, retrieved 2008-05-08 
  8. ^ Brauneis, Robert (2008-03-21), Copyright and the World's Most Popular Song, p. 31, retrieved 2008-05-08 
  9. ^ Brauneis, Robert (2008-03-21), Copyright and the World's Most Popular Song, p. 28 , The Myth of a Court Ruling

External links[edit]