Friday, November 6, 8854

John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) - Marches

John Philip Sousa (1854-1932)

Semper Fidelis (1888)

The Thunderer (1889)

The Liberty Bell (1893)

[Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969-1974),
featuring John Philip Sousa's The Liberty Bell]

El Capitan (1896)

The Stars and Stripes Forever (1897)

John Philip Sousa (November 6, 1854 - March 6, 1932) was an American composer and conductorknown particularly for American military and patriotic marches. Because of his mastery of march composition and resultant prominence, he is known as "The March King." In public he was typically referenced by his full name.

Sousa was born in Washington, D.C., to John António de Sousa and Maria Elisabeth Trinkhaus.

His parents were of Portuguese, Spanish and Bavarian (German) descent; his grandparents were Portuguese refugees.

Sousa started his music education, playing the violin, as a pupil of John Esputa, and of G. F. Benkert for harmony and musical composition at the age of six, when he was found to have absolute pitch. At 13, his father, a trombonist in the Marine Band, enlisted his son in the United States Marine Corps as an apprentice. Sousa served his apprenticeship for seven years, until 1875, and apparently learned to play all the wind instruments while honing his skills on the violin.

On December 30, 1879, he married Jane van Middlesworth Bellis. They had three children: John Philip Sousa, Jr (1 April 1881 - 18 May 1937), Jane Priscilla (7 Aug 1882 - 28 Oct 1958), and Helen (21 Jan 1887 - 14 Oct 197d5). All three are buried in the John Philip Sousa plot in the Congressional cemetery.

Several years later, Sousa left his apprenticeship to join 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 organized his own band the year he left the Marine Band. The Sousa Band toured 1892-1931, performing 15,623 concerts. In 1900, his band represented the United States at the Paris Exposition before touring Europe. In Paris, the Sousa Band marched through the streets including the Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe – one of only eight parades the band marched in over its forty years.

Sousa repeatedly refused to conduct on the radio, fearing a lack of personal contact with the audience. He was finally persuaded to do so in 1929 and became a smash hit.

Sousa lived in Sands Point, New York, and died on March 6, 1932, in a room at the Abraham Lincoln Hotel in Reading, Pennsylvania.

[8858 Puccini / 8854 Sousa / 8854 Janacek]