Born: Monday, November 6, 1854 in Washington, DC (USA)
Died: Sunday, March 6, 1932 in Reading, Pennsylvania (USA)
Nation of Origin: United States
Almost 100 Marches for Band:
Semper Fidelis (1888)
The Washington Post (1889)
Liberty Bell (1893)
King Cotton (1895)
The Stars and Stripes Forever (1896)
El Capitán (1896)
Hands Across the Sea (1899)
The Queen of Hearts (1885)
El Capitán (1895)
The Charlatan (1897)
Suites for Orchestra:
The Chariot Race (on the story of Ben Hur by Wallace)
The Last Days of Pompeii (on the story by Bulwer Lytton)
Sousa is known all over the world as a composer of fabulous marches for band. His heritage is Iberian and Germanic. His father was from Portugal and his mother was from Bavaria. He performed as a violinist in theater orchestras during his youth and at the age of 22 he played in the pit orchestra under the baton of the composer Offenbach. From 1880 to 1892 he served as conductor of the U. S. Marine Corps band and began to compose his famous marches. In 1892 he assembled his own band which became very popular on regional, then national, then international tours. In addition to composing nearly 100 marches, he composed about 70 songs, several operettas, and a few orchestral suites. Sousa also authored instructional materials for percussionists, violinists, and trumpeters. In 1898 a special tuba called the "sousaphone" was developed for the Sousa band. This instrument was designed for marching band whereas the traditional tuba was designed for concert orchestra. The first model had the now familiar circular shape to fit over the shoulders of the performer. The bell, however, rose straight up as in the tuba. In 1908 the bell of the sousaphone was altered to face directly forward and that design is the sousaphone still in use today. In 1928 he wrote a book, Marching Along recalling his experiences as a conductor of bands. This book has been reprinted several times and is still available today.
Essay contributed by:
Steven G. Estrella
Sousa, John Philip, Marching Along: Recollections of Men, Women and Music, Scholarly Press, June 1977 (reprinted from the original 1928 edition) ISBN: 0403072190
Blume, Friedrich, with Norton, M. D. (Translator) and Norton, Herter (Translator), Classic and Romantic Music; A Comprehensive Survey, W. W. Norton & Company, November 1970, ISBN: 0393098680
Einstein, Alfred. Music in the Romantic Era, W. W. Norton & Company, December 1947, ISBN: 0393097331
Rosen, Charles, The Romantic Generation, W. W. Norton & Company, April 1995, ISBN: 0674779347
Slonimsky, Nicolas and Kuhn, Laura; Editors, Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, Gale Group, December 2000, ISBN: 0028655257
Sadie, Stanley and Tyrrell, John; Editors, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Groves Dictionaries, Inc., January 2004, ISBN: 0195170679
Rutherford-Johnson, Tim, Kennedy, Michael, and Kennedy, Joyce The Oxford Dictionary of Music, Oxford University Press, 6th Edition, 2012, ISBN: 0199578109
Links to essays at other sites:
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The Romantic Generation
by Charles Rosen
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