It was tradition in the Sousa Band to play two or more encores after each program selection, meaning that a program with 10 pieces on it could expand into 25. These encores were announced to audiences by placing a large card on an easel at the front of the stage. The encores contrasted with the preceding piece and could be popular songs or short classics, but most often they were Sousa’s marches. The music was pasted into ledger-sized books. Older members of the band played from memory, while new members relied on the encore books.
The Sousa Band library was likely the largest privately owned collection of its time, and when not used for touring, it was stored in warehouses in New York City. It is believed that this collection ultimately ended up in five segments. These 44 encore books were donated to the Marine Band by Charles Walker Hyde in 1967. The Sousa encore books contain 91 tunes and 30 complete band arrangements of marches, concert programs, and sheet music. The most valuable part of the collection is the original manuscript of “The Liberty Bell.”
Until May 2016, the fragile encore books have only been available to researchers and scholars able to visit the Marine Band Library. In an effort to make these materials more accessible and to help preserve the content, the Marine Band Library had the books digitized. To read more about the history of this collection, click here.
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