'Christopher Robin is saying his prayers....', 'They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace....': familiar verses by A.A. Milne from the 1920s, but who wrote the original music?
In their day the songs were as much a part of the Milne success as the famous E.H. Shepard illustrations. Time, Disney and changing fashions have seen to it that the majority of these pieces have been all but forgotten, along with the man who set them to music. There are sixty-seven songs in all, from the verses in When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six, and The Hums of Pooh are from the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. Their composer was Harold Fraser-Simson, whose reputation was made by a hit West End musical in 1917 called The Maid of the Mountains, though he was partly chosen by Milne because he lived across the street in Chelsea and belonged to the Garrick Club.
When pianist John Kember first found the music on a friend's piano, he was so struck with it that he scoured the world for the scores to gather in all of the songs, which haven't yet been compiled into a full collection. With baritone Richard Burkhard John performs his favourites, follows the fortunes of some of the songs and hopes that the time might be ripe for another revival.
Presenter: John Kember
Producer: Kate Howells.