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"The President's Own"


"The President's Own"

United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
Marine Band Legacies

The following provides background information on family members that have served in the Marine Band. There have been countless marriages, but this article specifically identifies immediate family members (i.e. father/sons) that have served with “The President’s Own.” Research is ongoing and information will be posted as it becomes available.  


The earliest occurrence of a father serving along side his son occurred in 1805 when Gaetano Carusi enlisted in the band from Catania, Sicily. He served with not just one son, but two: Samuel and Ignazio. Gaetano Carusi was the leader of a band in Catania and was persuaded to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps for service with the Marine Band. Along with his sons and 13 other members of his band and their families, Carusi sailed from Catania to America and arrived in Washington in September 1805.


The other members of the Catania band may have contained additional father and son groups including Francesco Pulizzi and his son Venerando. Venerando Pulizzi went on to serve as leader of the band from October to December 1816 and again from 1818 to 1827.


One of the most famous father and son pair in the Marine Band is Antonio Sousa and his son John Philip. Antonio Sousa joined the band in 1854 and served as a trombonist in the band until 1879. In 1868, Antonio had his son John Philip enlisted in the Marine Corps as an apprentice musician. Marine Barracks became John Philip’s school and the Drum Major of the band, John Roach, was responsible for his education. He was taught basic subjects such as reading, writing, arithmetic, and basic music training on several instruments. Sousa is believed to have become a full member of the band, leaving apprentice status behind in 1872, and he served an additional three years before leaving the Marine Corps to pursue his own career in music. He returned in 1880 as Director of the Marine Band and served until 1892. George was a younger brother of John Philip, born on Feb. 7, 1859. He served with the band for 30 years. He enlisted as an apprentice musician on Jan. 30, 1877, just seven days before his 16th birthday. He mostly served as a percussionist, but for the last 10 years of his career he also served as librarian and was known for his system of cataloging the band’s large music collection.


No family has had longer or more profound influence on the Marine Band than the Santelmann family. William H. Santelmann joined the Marine Band in 1887, after auditioning for John Philip Sousa on violin, clarinet, and baritone. In 1898, he was named Director of the band and he served in this position until 1927, the longest tenure of any Marine Band Director.

In 1923, his son, William F. Santelmann, was accepted into the band and served as a violinist and baritone horn player. He served under his father for the next four years, until his father’s retirement. Following in his father’s footsteps, William H. Santelmann was named the 21st Director of the band in 1940. He led the band for the next 15 years, retiring in 1955. Together, the Santelmanns led the Marine Band for a total of 44 years, a period of time well over one-quarter of the band’s history at the time.


Other father and son relationships existed in the band during the Santelmann era. A native of the Netherlands, Theodore A. Sevenhuysen moved to the United States in 1884 when he was 19. After serving in the U.S. Army for 13 years, he joined “The President’s Own” in 1893 as a bassoonist and violinist. He served until his retirement in 1915. His son, Theodore A. Sevenhuysen Jr., followed in his father’s footsteps, pursuing a career in music and becoming a member of the Marine Band in 1921. He played trumpet in the band and retired in 1950. Although their careers did not overlap, the Sevenhuysens did perform together with the band on one occasion, a special concert in 1924 celebrating the 25th anniversary of the reorganization of the Marine Band in 1899. The senior Sevenhuysen was invited back to perform with the band on this special occasion.


The 20th century saw a number of brother-teams serving together in the band. One of the earliest and most notable was the Harpham brothers. Dee S. Harpham, a trombonist, joined the Marine Band in 1933. His brother, Dale L Harpham joined the band just two years later after studying trombone with a number of notable teachers including his brother. Dale had a long and colorful career with the band, serving as a trombonist and cellist, and trombone soloist. In 1955 he was named Assistant Director of the band, a position he held until 1972 when he was named Director. He retired in 1974 as a lieutenant colonel.


The name Saverino is almost legendary within the membership of the Marine Band. Louis and his brother Angelo were well-known as excellent tuba players and served as principal players and soloists. Louis was born in 1915, one of eight musically talented children of Angelo and Pauline Saverino. After graduating from the Eastman School of Music he joined the Marine Band in 1939 and retired in 1964. He played a number of instruments including tuba, double bass, and bass clarinet. During his career he was also active as a composer and arranger, writing numerous marches, solo pieces, and original band compositions. Angelo, born in 1920, joined the Army during World War II and served in Europe with distinction, earning a Bronze Star for heroism. After the war he joined the Marine Band, playing tuba and double bass from 1946 to his retirement in 1963.


Another legendary family in Marine Band history includes the three Erdman brothers, Fred, Jim, and Tim. Fred played the cornet, joined the band in 1955 at age 19, and immediately became a featured soloist. During his 30-year career it is estimated that he gave more than 1,500 solo performances. He retired in 1985.

Jim played trombone and joined “The President’s Own” in 1956 at age 17. He also followed in the band’s tradition of outstanding trombone soloists highlighted by former members such as Robert E. Clarke and Robert Isele. After a tremendously successful career as principal and soloist, he retired in 1976.

Tim played the cornet in the band from 1970-79. He occasionally performed solos and was featured with Fred and Jim in performances of John Morrissey’s Concerto Grosso for Two Trumpets and Trombone.


For violinist Staff Sergeant Christopher Franke, life as a member of “The President’s Own” is nothing out of the ordinary. A third-generation member of the Marine Band, both Chris’ parents and his grandfather made their career as musicians in “The President’s Own.”

Chris’ father, principal euphonium Master Gunnery Sergeant Philip Franke, and mother, former Marine Chamber Orchestra violist Master Sergeant Susan Franke, both joined the band in 1981. However, the Marine Band family legacy began when Susan’s father, former Marine Band trumpeter/cornetist Master Gunnery Sergeant David Johnson, joined the band in June of 1956.

A graduate of the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, Johnson remained a band member for 30 years and had the opportunity to work alongside his daughter and son-in-law toward the end of his career. For some, working alongside a relative might seem challenging, but both Susan and Phil said they thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Susan and her father David have been the only father/daughter connection in the Marine Band's history.

Even though Susan and her father have retired from the Marine Band, they, along with Phil, are very excited and happy to have Chris follow in their tracks. For Chris, winning the audition for “The President’s Own” has been a dream come true and something he has looked forward to his entire life.


The father and son tradition was renewed in 1988 when John Barclay joined the Marine Band. John's father, Robert, played clarinet and violin in the Marine Band from 1950-57. Robert Barclay, III, began his music studies in Chester, Pa., with his father who owned a music store. He continued his studies at Temple University in Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Musical Academy. He succeeded his father as concertmaster of the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra in Delaware during the 1949-50 season before joining the Marine Band in 1950.

Major John Barclay began his musical instruction at age 5 with Robert. After graduating from Bonanza High School in Las Vegas in 1986, he attended the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and joined “The President’s Own” in January 1988. He was appointed E-flat clarinetist in 1990. In 1996 he was named Operations Assistant and Assistant Drum Major. Three years later, he was appointed Administrative Assistant to the Director, while retaining his Assistant Drum Major duties. Major Barclay served as the band’s 33rd Drum Major from November 1999 to February 2001, when he was appointed to his current position. He was commissioned a captain in August 2001 and was promoted to his current rank in March 2005. 


Assistant Director Major Dennis Burian (Ret.) and his son Gunnery Sergeant Douglas Burian served alongside each other from 1997 to 2001. Major Burian, served “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band on active duty for 32 years. He currently is the head of the Marine Band Branch at Headquarters Public Affairs at the Pentagon. He joined the Marine Band in 1969 as a clarinetist. Before being named Assistant Director in 1988, he served 10 years as Operations Chief and leader of the White House Dance Band and one year as Operations Officer. In this position, he served as the band’s operational liaison with the White House and Marine Corps Headquarters and was directly involved in scheduling the band’s commitments.

In 1996, he was appointed senior Assistant Director and Executive Officer and promoted to his final rank. In addition to conducting the Marine Band and Marine Chamber Orchestra at the White House, in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, and across the country, he performed at the White House with numerous celebrities, including Neil Diamond, Frank Sinatra, and Sammy Davis, Jr. He is a member of the prestigious Gridiron Club and the Military Order of the Carabao. Major Burian graduated from William Allen High School and attended West Chester University in West Chester, Pa. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Major Burian conducted his final concert with “The President’s Own” in August 2001. His retirement ceremony was held on September 14, 2001, in John Philip Sousa Band Hall at Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C.

Operations Officer CWO3 Douglas R. Burian joined “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band in July 1997 as a cornet/trumpet player and joined the operations staff in June 2008. CWO3 Burian graduated in 1991 from DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Md., and received a bachelor’s degree in music from Centre College in Danville, Ky., in 1995. In 1997 he earned a master’s degree in music from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, and received his doctoral degree in trumpet performance at the University of Maryland in College Park in 2008. His most notable trumpet instructors include “The President’s Own” cornetist Roy Griffin, Vince DiMartino of Centre College, Jeff Piper of the University of New Mexico, and Chris Gekker of the University of Maryland. GySgt Burian has been featured twice as a soloist with the band and orchestra, in 1999 and 2001.


The latest brothers to join the Marine Band are Michael and Paul Mergen, who are the first siblings to win separate, anonymous auditions. Gunnery Sergeant Michael Mergen, a cornet/trumpet player, joined the Marine Band in 1999. He began his musical career at age 9. Upon graduating from Voorhees High School in Glen Gardner, N.J., in 1992, he attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in music performance and education. In 1998, he earned a master’s degree in music performance from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., and in 2008 he earned a doctorate in trumpet performance from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. His notable instructors include the late Armando Ghitalla, Charles Daval, and Charles Geyer. GySgt Mergen is a frequent soloist with the Marine Band and, in 2001, he was a featured tour soloist.

Staff Sergeant Paul Mergen began his musical career on the trumpet at age 10 and tuba at age 13. Upon graduating in 1993 from Voorhees High School in Glen Gardner, N.J., he also attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in music history in 1997. In 2003, he earned a master’s degree in music performance and pursued an artist’s diploma from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. SSgt Mergen made his solo debut with the Marine Band in 2007.