JOHN PHILIP SOUSA (/ˈsuːsə/ ; ; November 6, 1854 – March 6,
1932) was an American composer and conductor of the late Romantic era
, known primarily for American military and patriotic marches .
Because of his mastery of march composition, he is known as "The March
King", or the "American March King" due to his British counterpart
Kenneth J. Alford also being known by the former nickname. Among his
best-known marches are "
The Stars and Stripes Forever " (National
March of the United States of America), "Semper Fidelis " (Official
March of the
United States Marine Corps
Sousa began his career playing violin and studying music theory and
composition under John Esputa and George Felix Benkert . His father
enlisted him in the
United States Marine Band as an apprentice in
1868. After departing the band in 1875, Sousa learned to conduct. From
1880 until his death, he focused exclusively on conducting and the
writing of music. He eventually rejoined the Marine Band and served
there for 12 years as director. On leaving the Marine Band, Sousa
organized his own band. He toured Europe and Australia and developed
the sousaphone , a large brass instrument similar to the helicon and
tuba . At the outbreak of
World War I
* 1 Early life and education * 2 Career * 3 Personal life * 4 Military service * 5 Honors
* 6 Music
* 6.1 Marches * 6.2 Operettas
* 7 Writings, views and interests
* 7.1 Trapshooting * 7.2 Writing * 7.3 Hostility to recording * 7.4 Other interests
John Philip Sousa
* 13 Further reading
* 13.1 Music sources * 13.2 Archives
* 14 External links
EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION
Sousa's birthplace, still standing on G St., S.E., in Washington, D.C. is currently owned by a member of "The President's Own" U.S. Marine Band
John Philip Sousa
Several years long after serving his apprenticeship, Sousa joined a
theatrical (pit) orchestra where he learned to conduct. He returned to
the U.S. Marine Band as its head in 1880 and remained as its conductor
until 1892. Sousa led "The President's Own" band under five presidents
Rutherford B. Hayes to
The Washington Post -------------------------
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He organized The Sousa Band the year he left the Marine Band. The
Sousa Band toured from 1892 to 1931, performing at 15,623 concerts
both in America and around the world, including at the World
Paris, France and at the
Royal Albert Hall
US Postage, Issue of 1940
On December 30, 1879, Sousa married Jane van Middlesworth Bellis
(1862–1944). They had three children: John Philip, Jr. (April 1,
1881 – May 18, 1937), Jane Priscilla (August 7, 1882 – October 28,
1958), and Helen (January 21, 1887 – October 14, 1975). All were
buried in the
John Philip Sousa
Late in his life, Sousa lived in
Sands Point, New York
Sousa served two periods of service in the United States Marine Corps . He first enlisted on June 9, 1868 at the age of 13 as an apprentice musician. In official records, his initial rank was listed as "boy". He re-enlisted on July 8, 1872 and was promoted to musician. He left the Marine Corps in 1875 at the age of 20.
His second period of Marine service was from 1880 to 1892. During
this period he was the leader of the Marine Band in Washington, D.C.
(Some sources state that Sousa served with the rank of Sergeant Major
and was eventually promoted to
Under his leadership, the Marine Band became the premier military band in the United States. The Columbia Phonograph Company produced 60 cylinders of recordings of the Marine Band conducted by Sousa. The recordings, along with two tours in 1891 and 1892, led to Sousa becoming nationally famous. During his time with the Marine Band, Sousa composed several of his famous marches including The Washington Post , The Thunderer and Semper Fidelis which remain staples of marching bands to this day.
In July 1892, Sousa requested, and received, a discharge from the
Marine Corps to pursue a financially promising civilian career as a
band leader. He conducted a farewell concert at the
On May 31, 1917, shortly after the United States declared war on
Germany and entered
World War I
Sousa was discharged from active duty after the war's end in November 1918. He returned to conducting his own band but continued to wear his naval uniform for many of his concerts and other public appearances. In the early 1920s, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant commander in the Naval Reserve but did not return to active duty.
For this service during the war, Sousa received the World War I Victory Medal . By right of his wartime service, he was elected as a Veteran Companion of the Military Order of Foreign Wars .
Sousa was decorated with the palms of the Order of Public Instruction
of Portugal. He also received the
Royal Victorian Medal from King
Edward VII of the
Sousa has a star in his honor at 1500 Vine Street on the Hollywood Walk of Fame .
In 1976, Sousa was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Great Americans . In 1998, he was inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame in Cincinnati, Ohio .
The band hall of the Marine Band was dedicated as "John Philip Sousa Band Hall."
In 1987, an act of Congress named "The Stars and Stripes Forever" as the National March of the United States.
Sousa wrote 137 marches, 15 operettas, 5 overtures, 11 suites, 24 dances, 28 fantasies, and 322 arrangements of nineteenth-century western European symphonic works.
Sousa wrote 137 marches, published by Harry Coleman of Philadelphia, Carl Fischer Music , the John Church Company , and the Sam Fox Publishing Company , the last association beginning in 1917 and continuing until his death. Some of his notable ones are:
"Semper Fidelis" Sousa's "Semper Fidelis ", the official march
United States Marine Corps
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The Gladiator March " (1886)
* "Semper Fidelis " (1888) (Official March of the United States
* "The Washington Post " (1889)
The Thunderer " (1889)
* "The Loyal Legion March" (1890)
High School Cadets " (1890)
* "The Liberty Bell " (1893) (later used as credits theme for Monty
Python\'s Flying Circus TV series)
* "Manhattan Beach March " (1893)
* "King Cotton " (1895)
Stars and Stripes Forever " (1896) (National March of the United
* "El Capitan" (1896)
* "Hands Across the Sea " (1899)
* "Hail to the Spirit of Liberty" March (1900)
* "Invincible Eagle" (1901) (dedicated to Pan-American Buffalo
* "Imperial Edward " March (1902)
Fairest of the Fair " (1908)
* "Glory of the Yankee Navy" (1909)
U.S. Field Artillery " (1917) (modified version "The Army Goes
Rolling Along " is the official song of the U.S. Army )
* "Who's Who in Navy Blue" (1920) (composed at the request of the
United States Naval Academy
Sousa wrote marches for several American universities, including the
University of Minnesota
Sousa and his newly formed civilian band, 1893 Sheet music cover , 1896
Sousa wrote many notable operettas including:
* The Smugglers (1882) * Désirée (1883) * The Queen of Hearts (1885), also known as Royalty and Roguery * El Capitan (1896) * The Bride-Elect (1898) * The Charlatan (1898), also known as The Mystical Miss, lyrics by Sousa * Chris and the Wonderful Lamp (1899) * The Free Lance (1905) * The American Maid (1909), also known as The Glass Blowers.
Marches and waltzes have been derived from many of these stage-works. Sousa also composed the music for six operettas that were either unfinished or not produced: The Devils' Deputy, Florine, The Irish Dragoon, Katherine, The Victory, and The Wolf.
In addition, Sousa wrote a march based on themes from Gilbert and
Sullivan 's comic opera
WRITINGS, VIEWS AND INTERESTS
Sousa had several additional interests outside of music. He wrote three novels – The Fifth String, Pipetown Sandy, and The Transit of Venus – as well as a full-length autobiography, Marching Along and numerous articles and letters-to-the-editor on a variety of subjects. He participated in trapshooting, taking an active role on the national stage in competitions.
As a trapshooter , he ranks as one of the all-time greats, and is
enshrined in the Trapshooting Hall of Fame. He organized the first
national trapshooting organization, a forerunner to today's Amateur
Trapshooting Association (ATA). Sousa remained active in the fledgling
ATA for some time after its formation. Some credit Sousa as the father
of organized trapshooting in United States. He also wrote numerous
articles about trapshooting. Sousa was a regular competitor
United States Navy
In his 1902 novel The Fifth String, a young violinist made a deal with the Devil for a magic violin with five strings. The strings can excite the emotions of Pity, Hope, Love and Joy – the fifth string was of Death and can be played only once before causing the player's own death. He was unable to win the love of the woman he desired. At a final concert, he played upon the death string. In 1905, Sousa published a book Pipetown Sandy, which included a satirical poem titled "The Feast of the Monkeys". The poem described "a lavish party attended by variety of animals, however, overshadowed by the King of Beasts, the lion...who allows the muttering guests the privilege of watching him eat the entire feast". At the end of his gluttony, the lion explained, "Come all rejoice, You've seen your monarch dine."
In 1920, he wrote a 40,000-word story, "The Transit of Venus". It was about a group of misogynists called the Alimony Club who, as a way of temporarily escaping the society of women, embark on a sea voyage to observe the transit of Venus. The captain's niece, however, had stowed away on board and soon won over the men. Sousa also wrote a booklet, "A manual for trumpet and drum", published by the Ludwig drum company, with advice for playing drums and trumpet. An early version of the trumpet solo to "Semper Fidelis" was included in this volume.
HOSTILITY TO RECORDING
Sousa held a very low opinion of the emerging and upstart recording
industry . Using an epithet coined by
These talking machines are going to ruin the artistic development of music in this country. When I was a boy...in front of every house in the summer evenings, you would find young people together singing the songs of the day or old songs. Today you hear these infernal machines going night and day. We will not have a vocal cord left. The vocal cord will be eliminated by a process of evolution, as was the tail of man when he came from the ape.
Law professor Lawrence Lessig cited this passage to argue that in creating a system of copyrights in which control of music is in the hands of record labels, Sousa was essentially correct.
Sousa's antipathy to recording was such that he almost never conducted his band when it was being recorded. Nevertheless, Sousa's band made numerous recordings, the earliest being issued on cylinders by several companies, followed by many recordings on discs by the Berliner Gramophone Company and its successor, the Victor Talking Machine Company (later RCA Victor ). The Berliner recordings were conducted by Henry Higgins (one of Sousa's cornet soloists) and Arthur Pryor (Sousa's trombone soloist and assistant conductor), with Sousa quoted as saying, "I have never been in the gramophone company's office in my life." A handful of the Victor recordings were actually conducted by Sousa, but most were conducted by Pryor, Herbert L. Clarke , Edwin H. Clarke , or by four of Victor's most prolific house musicians: Walter B. Rogers (who had also been a cornet soloist with Sousa), Rosario Bourdon , Josef Pasternack , and Nathaniel Shilkret . Details of the Victor recordings are available in the external link below to the EDVR.
Sousa also appeared with his band in newsreels and on radio
broadcasts (beginning with a 1929 nationwide broadcast on
JOHN PHILIP SOUSA AWARD
Even after death, Sousa continues to be remembered as "The March King" through a high school and collegiate award program for marching band. The John Philip Sousa Foundation , a non-profit organization founded in 1981, recognizes one superior student in marching band for "musicianship, dependability, loyalty, and cooperation." The John Philip Sousa Foundation provides awards, scholarships, and projects such as The Sudler Trophy, The Sudler Shield, The Sudler Silver Scroll, The Sudler Flag of Honor, The Historic Roll of Honor, The Sudler Cup, The Hawkins Scholarship, National Young Artists, The National Community Band, and The Junior Honor Band Project.
* Biography portal
* ^ Merriam-Webster Also commonly /ˈsuːzə/
* ^ Bierley 2001, p 23, 241.
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Present, vol. 4, edited by Jeffrey Fear. German Historical Institute.
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* ^ "Biography". Sousa and His Band. Dallas Wind Symphony.
Retrieved 21 November 2012.
* ^ "Biography of John Philip Sousa". A Capitol Fourth – PBS.
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James A. Garfield (1989). "Inaugural Addresses of the
Presidents of the United States". Archived from the original on
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* ^ Brian, Greg. "
Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity: A History of
this Secret Society for Musicians". Yahoo! Voices. Yahoo! Inc.
Retrieved 1 January 2013.
* ^ Crowther, Bosley. "Stars-and-Stripes-Forever – Trailer –
Cast – Showtimes". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
* ^ Lovrien, David. "What is the
John Philip Sousa
* 75 years after death here, Sousa sells out the Abe – Reading
* Congressional hearing: in Copyright\'s Communication Policy by
Professor Tim Woo,
University of Virginia
* Berger, Kenneth W. The March King and His Band : The Story of John
Philip Sousa. New York: Exposition Press, 1957.
* Bierley, Paul E. John Philip Sousa: A Descriptive Catalog of His
Works. Urbana: University of