Joined Marine Band Aug. 25, 1958 as a French horn player
Assistant Director Nov. 1974-1979
Director 1979-July 11, 1996
Director emeritus John R. Bourgeois was 25th Director of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band. His acclaimed career spanned nine presidential administrations, from Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower to Bill Clinton.
Bourgeois is a graduate of Loyola University in New Orleans. He joined the Marine Corps in 1956 and entered “The President’s Own” as a French hornist and arranger in 1958. Named Director of the Marine Band in 1979, Bourgeois was promoted to colonel in June 1983. He retired on July 11, 1996.
As Director of “The President’s Own,” Bourgeois was Music Advisor to the White House. He selected the musical program and directed the band on its traditional place of honor at the U.S. Capitol for four Presidential inaugurations, a Marine Band tradition dating to 1801. He regularly conducted the Marine Band and the Marine Chamber Orchestra at the White House, appearing there more frequently than any other musician in the nation.
Under Bourgeois’ leadership the Marine Band presented its first overseas performances in history, traveling to the Netherlands in 1985 where “The President’s Own” performed with the Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy. In February 1990, Bourgeois led the Marine Band on an historic 18-day concert tour of the former Soviet Union as part of the first U.S.-U.S.S.R. Armed Forces band exchange. He also directed the Marine Band on 16 nationwide tours, bringing the music of “The President’s Own” to the American people.
Bourgeois has served as the president of the John Philip Sousa Foundation, the National Band Association, and the American Bandmasters Association. He remains active as a guest conductor and has published numerous new editions of classic band repertoire. He in a visiting professor in a chair endowed in his name at Loyola University in New Orleans.