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The life and music career of john philip sousa

Young John Philip grew up surrounded by military band music, and when he was just six, he began studying voice, violin, piano, flute, cornet, baritone, trombone and alto horn. By all accounts, John Philip was an adventure-loving boy, and when at the age of 13 he tried to run away to join a circus band, his father instead enlisted him in the Marine Band as a band apprentice.

Begins Musical Studies

Except for a period of six months, Sousa remained in the band until he was 20 years old. In addition to his musical training in the Marine Band, he studied music theory and composition with George Felix Benkert, a noted Washington orchestra leader and teacher.

It was during his years in the Marines that Sousa wrote his first composition, "Moonlight on the Potomac Waltzes". Just a year later, the couple returned to Washington, D.

In his book, The Experiences of a Bandmaster, Sousa described what it was like to play for presidents: Hayes being particularly fond of American ballads. During the brief Garfield administration there were no state receptions or dinners given by the President, and the band did not play at the White House, except for a few of Mrs. Garfield's receptions immediately after the inauguration.

McElroy was mistress of the Executive Mansion for her brother, President Arthur, the lighter music was much in favor, as there were always many young people at the Mansion. Miss Rose Elizabeth Cleveland was much interested in music, and evinced a partiality for Arthur Sullivan's melodies. The soundness of Mrs. The distance from the room up-stairs to the exact spot where the ceremony was to take place was carefully measured by Colonel Lamont and myself, in order that the music might be timed to the precise number of steps the wedding party would have to take; and the climax of the Mendelssohn 'Wedding March' was played by the band just as the bride and groom reached the clergyman.

A brief timeline of Sousa’s life

In 1888, he wrote "Semper Fidelis", which he dedicated to "the officers and men of the Marine Corps. Under Sousa, the Marine Band also made its first recordings. The phonograph was a relatively new invention, and the Columbia Phonograph Company sought a military band to record.

The Marine Band was chosen, and 60 cylinders were released in the fall of 1890. By 1897, more than 400 different titles were available for sale, placing Sousa's marches among the first and most popular pieces ever recorded, and making the Marine Band one of the world's first "recording stars.

The band's first concert was performed on Sept. Two days earlier, bandleader Patrick Gilmore had died in St. Nineteen of Gilmore's former musicians eventually joined Sousa's band, including Herbert L.

Clarke cornet and E. Although its original name was Sousa's New Marine Band, criticism from Washington eventually forced the band to drop the new Marine part of its name. In 1896, Sousa and his wife were vacationing in Europe when word came that David Blakely had died. The couple immediately left for home. It was on the return voyage home that Sousa was inspired to begin writing his most famous composition, "The Stars and Stripes Forever.

After World War I, Sousa continued to tour with his band while championing the cause of music education for all children. He also received several honorary degrees and fought for composers' rights, testifying before Congress in 1927 and 1928.

Sousa, as a distinguished guest, rose from the speaker's table, took the baton from Captain Taylor Branson, the band's director, and led the band in "The Stars and Stripes Forever. He had many talents aside from music, authoring three novels the life and music career of john philip sousa a full-length autobiography, as well as a number of articles and letters-to-the-editor on a variety of subjects.

Sousa is not forgotten. The bell from the S. A White House memorandum states that the march has become "an integral part of the celebration of American life.