The son of a trombonist, John Philip Sousa (1854–1932) was born with perfect pitch and
So mastered the violin, piano, and various wind instruments at a young age. He was enrolled as
an apprentice musician in the United States Marine Band when he was only 13. By age 20,
ip he was working as a professional violinist and conductor in Philadelphia, where he also began
composing and arranging for popular musicals, such as the HMS Pinafore
. In 1880, he was invited
iL to be the director of the United States Marine Band, which he transformed into the best band in
h the United States. In 1892, he created his own band, called Sousa’s Band, changed the reception
of band music worldwide. This very successful band toured North America and Europe for
p nearly forty years, performing upbeat American march music. Sousa’s Band continued until
Known as “The March King,” Sousa composed 135 marches for band while conducting the
Jo United States Marine Band and then Sousa’s Band. His marches have exciting melodies and
patriotic power. His early marches have a distinctive military feel, such as “Semper Fidelis”, which
is now the official march of the United States Marine Corps. Other marches have an energetic swing and lend themselves to
dancing, such as “The Washington Post”, which was used for dancing the two-step. Sousa’s simple melodies and harmonies
and quickstep march style have made his marches popular. Sousa also composed band showpieces, such as fantasies and
humoresques, and his compositions continue to be performed by bands throughout the world.
Apply Your Knowledge!
Write your answers on the back or on a separate
march – a musical genre with a strong, regular rhythm,
originally written for military bands and, later,
1) At what age did Sousa join the United States Marine
quickstep march – a march to a fast tempo, usually in 24 or
2) Why did Sousa’s Band have such an impact on band
humoresques – a short , humorous piece of music
3) What is the official march of the United States
4) Identify three characteristics of the style of Sousa’s
Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” was chosen as the official
5) Listen to a recording of a march by Sousa. Can you hear
In nearly 40 years of existence (1892-1932), Sousa’s Band
played over 15,200 concerts worldwide.
Sousa invented an instrument called the Sousaphone in the
Play a march by John Philip Sousa on page 32 of Tradition of
1890s. This tuba encircles the player so that it can easily be
, Book 1.
Sousa is born
World War I
Freud publishes The
Worksheet written by Laurel Plapp, PhD, author and editor. 2010 Kjos Music Press.
This page authorized for duplication.
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