John Philip Sousa
John Philip Sousa (November 6, 1854 - March 6, 1932), is probably the most famous marching band conductor (although his band rarely marched) and composer in history. He wrote well over 100 marches; some of his most popular are:
- Semper Fidelis (1888)
- The Washington Post March (1889)
- The Thunderer (1889)
- The Liberty Bell March (1893)
- Manhattan Beach March (1893)
- King Cotton (1895)
- The Stars and Stripes Forever (1896)
- El Capitan (1896)
- Hands Across the Sea (1899)
- Fairest of the Fair (1908)
- U.S. Field Artillery (1917)
- The Gallant Seventh (1922)
- The Black Horse Troop (1924)
- Daughters of Texas (1929)
The marching brass bass, or sousaphone, is named after him.
Sousa's musical education began when he was seven years old. At the age of 13, he was enrolled as an apprentice with the United States Marine Corps Band. He left it after several years to join a theatrical band. He soon began conducting, and returned to the Marine Band as its head in 1880.
Sousa organized his own band in 1892. It toured widely, and in 1900 represented the United States at the Paris Exposition before touring Europe. Sousa repeatedly refused to conduct on the radio, fearing the lack of personal contact with the audience; he was persuaded to do so in 1929, and was very successful.
In addition to hundreds of marches, Sousa wrote ten operas and a number of musical suites.
Sousa exhibited many talents aside from music. He authored three novels and a full length autobiography as well as a great number of articles and letters-to-the-editor on a variety of subjects. As a trapshooter , he ranks as one of the all-time greats and his skill as a horseman met championship criteria.
He was in the vanguard of the reactionary camp in the music piracy wars of his era (cf. Recording Industry Association of America), in which authors of sheet music railed against the upstart recording industry. In a submission to a congressional hearing in 1906, he argued that:
- 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.
- The Queen of Hearts, 1885, also known as Royalty and Roguery.
- The Smugglers, 1882.
- Desiree, 1883.
- El Capitan, 1895.
- The Bride Elect, 1897, libretto by Sousa.
- 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.
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.
- Listen to an archival recording of Sousa's band performing "Stars and Stripes Forever" (2MB .ogg file)
- Congressional hearing: in Copyright's Communication Policy by Professor Tim Woo, University of Virginia, May 2004 - Caution, 560k PDF.
- Project Gutenberg e-texts of works by John Philip Sousa: