Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The March King- John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa, is the Week One honoree under the American Music/Art topic. Even if you don't realize it, you all know (and probably love) his music. If you've ever been to a parade - especially a Military parade - you are very familiar with his best work. Below is a link to one of his most famous Marches: Stars and Stripes Forever. His patriotic marches earned him the nickname "the March King." Just hit the link and try not to tap your feet or nod your head to the rhythm. It's impossible! Born in 1854, Sousa followed in the footsteps of his father, a musician in the U.S. Marine Corps, and enlisted at the age of 14. He later led the U.S. Marine Band from 1880 until 1892 and also led "The President's Own" band under five presidents from Rutherford B. Hayes to Benjamin Harrison. His band played at two Inaugural Balls, those of James Garfield in 1881, and Benjamin Harrison in 1889. Another President, Ronald Reagan, liked his music so much (no surprise there!) that he signed Congressional Legislation in December 1987 making "Stars and Stripes Forever" our National March. Sousa composed in other styles as well, including a waltz, "Moonlight on the Potomac"; a gallop, "The Cuckoo" (both in 1869); the oratorio "Messiah of the Nations" (1914); and scores for Broadway musicals The Smugglers (1879), Desiree (1884), The Glass Blowers (1893), El Capitan (1896; which was his first real scoring success), American Maid (1913), and more. Sousa formed his sternly organized marching band in 1892, leading them through numerous U.S. and European tours, a world tour, and an appearance in the 1915 Broadway show Hip-Hip-Hooray. Sousa's Band also recorded many sides for the Victor label up through the early '30s.
Do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to listen to a sampling of his Marches. Many are available on Youtube. You won't regret it!

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