John Philip Sousa
Born November 6, 1854
in Washington, D.C.
, Died March 6, 1932
in Reading, PA
The favorite composer of John Varley's Titanides, John Phillip Sousa is synonymous with military marches, patriotism and the Fourth of July. Marches that are well known, even to people who don't know their names or even that Sousa was involved include The Stars and Stripes Forever Washington Post, Semper Fidelis and the Monty Python's Flying Circus theme.
Sousa did not invent the sousaphone, which is sort of a bass tuba; although it was named for him, was used by his bands, and indeed was built based on his suggestions.
First, a few anecdotes from Sousa's own The Experiences of a Bandmaster
Leading the US Marine Band from 1880 to 1892, Sousa served under presidents Rutherford Hayes
, James Garfield
, Chester Arthur
, Grover Cleveland
and Benjamin Harrison
. Sousa says
They were all very appreciative of music, and in this respect were
quite unlike General Grant, of whom it is said that he knew only
two tunes, one of which was Yankee Doodle and the other wasn't!
Once, on the occasion of a state dinner, President Arthur
requested the song Cachuca
. Sousa explained that they
didn't have the music but would do it next time. Arthur responds
"Why, Sousa, I thought you could play anything
. I'm sure you can;
now give us the 'Cachuca.'"
One of the band members remembered the melody and
played it over softly on his cornet to Sousa, who hastily
wrote out several parts for the leading instruments, and told the
rest of the band to vamp in the key of E flat. Then they played the
"Cachuca" to the satisfaction of Mr. Arthur, who said:
"There, I knew you could play it."
During the Chicago World's Fair
the Sousa Band gave nightly concerts.
One beautiful night in June fully ten thousand
gathered round the bandstand while they played a medley of
Director Tomlins, of the World's Fair Choral Association, who was on
the stand, turned to the
crowd and motioned the people to join him in singing. With the
background of the stately buildings of the White City, this mighty
chorus, led by the band, sang the songs of the people -
Home Sweet Home, Suwanee River, Annie Laurie,
My Old Kentucky Home
etc., and never did the familiar melodies sound so grandly
In a little Michigan
town the Sousa Band was booked for an afternoon
, and on their arrival the local manager assured us that they
should have a good house
, although there was no advance sale. He
explained this by saying that the townspeople
did not like to buy
their tickets until the last minute
The theatre was on the second floor of the town hall, the ground
floor being given over to the fire department.
Twenty minutes before the concert a large crowd
had gathered round the box office to buy tickets when the
fire-alarm sounded, and the entire population promptly deserted the
muse of music and escorted the engine and hose-cart to the scene of
action, leaving the band absolutely without an audience.
of his life and works :
- November 6, 1854
- Sousa is born in Washington, D.C., the 3rd of 10 children born to John Antonio Sousa and Maria Elisabeth Trinkhaus.
His father was born in Spain of Portuguese parents, and plays trombone in the U.S. Marine Band. His mother was born in Bavaria.
- Begins to study solfeggio, voice, violin, piano, flute, cornet, baritone, trombone and alto horn. The Civil War begins.
- Sousa organizes and leads his quadrille orchestra, consisting of seven adults plus himself.
- Sousa changes music teachers, beginning studies with George Felix Benkert, who had trained in Vienna with the famed theorist Simon Sechter. Benkert provides sophisticated training in composition, harmony, counterpoint and orchestration. At the same time, Sousa played first violin for Benkert's Washington Orchestral Union, as well as performing for regular Tuesday evening string quartet concerts at the home of the Assistant Secretary of State William Hunter.
- After an unsuccessful attempt to run away with a circus band, Sousa is enlisted in the Marines as an apprentice.
- Publishes first composition, Moonlight on the Potomac Waltzes.
- Sousa is an active violinist in theatre orchestras, including Ford's Theatre and the Washington Theatre Comique a.k.a. vaudeville.
- Composes the marches Salutation and Review a.k.a. Opus 5
- Discharged from Marines. Begins performing (on violin).
Conducts Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore on Broadway.
- Composes the march The Phoenix March
- Plays in the first violin section of the official centennial orchestra playing for guest conductor Jacques Offenbach
- Composes the marches Revival march and The Honored Dead
- Composes the march Across the Danube or Opus 36.
- Provides orchestrations for an American performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's Sorcerer.
- Composes the march Esprit de Corps
- In February, meets Jane van Middlesworth Bellis during Pinafore rehearsals; they marry December 30, 1879.
- Composes the marches On the Tramp, Resumption March and Globe and Eagle.
- Composes the operetta Katherine
- Returns to Washington in September to assume leadership of the US Marine Band.
- Composes the marches Recognition March and Our Flirtation
- Composes the marches Right Forward, Guide Right, Yorktown Centennial, President Garfield's Inauguration March a.k.a. Opus 131 and In Memoriam a.k.a. Garfield's Funeral March.
- Composes the operetta Florine
- Composes the march Congress Hall
- Composes the operetta The Smugglers
- Composes the marches Bonnie Annie Laurie, Right-Left, Transit of Venus, Pet of the Petticoats and Mother Goose.
- Composes the march The White Plume
- Composes the marches Mother Hubbard March, Triumph of Time, Sound Off and Mikado March
- Composes the operetta The Queen of Hearts
- Composes the marches The Rifle Regiment and The Gladiator
- Composes the march The Occidental
- Composes the marches Ben Bolt, Semper Fidelis, National Fencibles and The Crusader
- Composes the operetta The Wolf
- Composes the marches The Quilting party march, The Washington Post, The Thunderer and The Picador
- Composes the marches Corcoran Cadets, The Loyal Legion and The High School Cadets
- Composes the marches The Wolverine March and Homeward Bound
- Sousa leaves the US Marine Band and starts the Sousa Band, briefly called Sousa's New Marine Band. After, band leader Patrick Gilmore's death in St. Louis, nineteen of Gilmore's former musicians eventually join Sousa's band.
- The first Sousa Band concert was performed September 26, 1892 at Stillman Music Hall in Plainfield, NJ.
- Composes the marches The Belle of Chicago, The Triton, On Parade a.k.a. The Lion Tamer and March of the Royal Trumpets.
- Composes the marches The Beau Ideal, Manhattan Beach and The Liberty Bell a.k.a. The Theme from Monty Python's Flying Circus.
- Composes the operettas Desiree and The Devil's Deputy
- Composes the suite The Last Days of Pompeii
- Composes the march The Directorate
- Sousa's first successful operetta, El Capitan, debuts.
- Composes the march King Cotton
- Composes the operetta El Capitan
- Composes the suite Three Quotations
- Composes The Stars and Stripes Forever, now the official march of the United States of America, on Christmas Day. Also composes the march El Capitan.
- Composes the march The Bride Elect
- Composes the operetta The Bride Elect
- Writes is memoirs in The Experiences of a Band Master
- Composes the march The Charlatan
- Composes the operetta The Charlatan a.k.a. The Mystical Miss
- Composes the marches Hands Across the Sea and The Man Behind the Gun
- Composes the operetta Chris and the Wonderful Lamp
- The Sousa Band tours Europe.
- Composes the march Hail to the Spirit of Liberty
- Second European tour.
- Composes the marches The Pride of Pittsburgh a.k.a. Homage to Pittsburgh and The Invincible Eagle
- Composes the march Imperial Edward
- Composes the suite Looking Upward
- Composes the march Jack Tar
- Composes the march The Diplomat
- Composes the suite At the King's Court
- Third European tour.
- Composes the operetta The Free Lance
- Composes the march The Free Lance
- Composes the march Powhatten's Daughter
- Composes the march The Fairest of the Fair
- Composes the march The Glory of the Yankee Navy
- Composes the operetta The American Maid a.k.a. The Glass Blower
- Composes the suite People Who Live in Glass Houses
- World Tour: New York, Great Britain, Canary Islands, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii and Canada.
- Composes the march The Federal
- Composes the suite Dwellers of the Western World
- Composes the suite Tales of a Traveler
- Composes the march From Maine to Oregon
- Composes the operetta The Irish Dragoon
- Composes the marches Colombia's Pride and The Lambs' March
- Composes the marches The Pathfinder of Panama and The New York Hippodrome
- Composes the operetta The Victory
- Composes the marches America First, March of the Pan Americans and Boy Scouts of America.
- Sousa joins the US Naval Reserve at age 62. He is assigned the rank of lieutenant and paid a salary of $1 per month.
- Composes the marches Liberty Loan, The White Rose, Wisconsin Forever Forward, U.S. Fields Artillery and The Naval Reserve.
- Composes the marches Anchor and Star, Sabre and Spurs, Solid Men to the Front, Flags of Freedom, USAAC March, The Volunteers, Wedding March and The Chantyman's March.
- Composes the marches Bullets and Bayonets and The Golden Star
- Composes the marches On the Campus, Who's Who in Navy Blue and Comrades of the Legion
- Composes the suite Camera Studies
- Composes the march Keeping Step with the Union
- Composes the marches The Dauntless Battalion and The Gallant Seventh
- Composes the suites Leaves from My Notebook and Impressions at the Movies
- Composes the marches Nobles of the Shrine and March of the Mitten Men a.k.a. Power and Glory
- Composes the marches Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, Marquette University March and The Black Horse Troop.
- Composes the marches Universal Peace and The National Game
- Composes the suite Cubaland
- Composes the marches Old Ironsides, Sesquicentennial Exposition March, The Pride of the Wolverines and The Gridiron Club.
- Composes the marches The Atlantic City Pageant, Riders for the Flag, The Minnesota March and Magna Carta
- Writes his autobiography Marching Along.
- Composes the marches Golden Jubilee, University of Nebraska, Prince Charming and New Mexico.
- Composes the marches Daughters of Texas, University of Illinois, The Royal Welch Fusiliers No. 1, Foshay Tower Washington Memorial and La Flor de Sevilla
- Composes the marches George Washington Bicentennial, The Royal Welch Fusiliers No. 2, The Legionnaires, The Salvation Army, The Wildcats a.k.a. Salute to Kansas and Harmonica Wizard.
- Composes the marches The Aviators, Kansas Wildcats, Northern Pines, The Circumnavigators Club and A Century of Progress.
- Sousa dies on March 6, 1932 in Reading, PA, at age 77, after conducting a rehearsal of the Ringgold Band. The last piece he conducted was The Stars and Stripes Forever.
The best source for general information is http://www.dws.org/sousa/
Other sources I used include
The full text of The Experiences of a Band Master can be found at http://ibiblio.org/pub/docs/books/gutenberg/etext01/sousa10.txt
The Sousa Foundation at http://www.loyno.edu/sousafoundation/ was no help at all.