No, I meant the March King, but he does have some lively mustaches. On this holiday weekend, I don’t need to make any excuses for playing some Sousa. If I had my way, I would play him a lot more often, early in the morning to rouse my gang to action or early afternoon in place of another cup of coffee or in the early evening, to counteract a heavy dinner and prepare for the night’s festivities. I always try to turn up the volume to approximate the large number of instruments involved and the general spirit of the whole thing.
The Stars and Stripes Forever March
John Phillip Sousa lived from 1854 until 1932 and, in that time, he not only wrote a lot of great music (not all of it marches), he also wrote three novels, including, The Fifth String, and his autobiography, Marching Along. He had a long career in the Marine Corps, having first enlisted at age thirteen, and, at one time, his official rank was that of, ‘Leader of the Band’. He wrote such great tunes as, Stars and Stripes Forever, which became the national march, and Semper Fideles, the Marine Corps hymn.
At A Georgia Camp Meeting, recorded ca.1902
Many of his compositions have wonderful titles –
The Washington Post March
The High School Cadets March
Hands Across The Sea
The Bride Elect March
Fairest of The Fair March
The Presidential Polonais
Peaches and Cream Foxtrot
The Minnesota March
The Gliding Girl Tango
The Salvation Army March
The Fairest of The Fair
He has been honored in many ways, including having a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame, induction in the Trapshooters Hall of Fame, and the Halls of Fame for Great Americans and American Classical Music. He developed a big variation of the tuba named after him, the Sousaphone. He had perfect pitch and wrote over fifteen operettas, in addition to 137 marches, 5 overtures, 24 dances, 28 fantasies, and 322 arrangements of nineteenth-century western European symphonic works. Whew!
He had a low opinion of the newly developing recording industry and, though his band recorded many times, he almost always refused to conduct. As seems only fitting, he was born in Washington, D.C.