“Golden Jubilee” (1928)
To commemorate his fiftieth year as a conductor Sousa wrote this, one of his most brilliant marches. He was hesitant to compose anything for his own gratification but reasoned that his public might expect something special. The march was given its premiere by the Sousa Band at the beginning of its engagement at the Steel Pier in Atlantic City on July 29, 1928, and then featured on the 1928 “golden jubilee” tour.
Subtracting fifty from 1928 gives 1878 as Sousa’s first year as a conductor. In actuality, he began his conducting career in 1875 as leader of the orchestra in a traveling company which featured Milton Nobles in the play Bohemians and Detectives, otherwise known as The Phoenix. But apparently Sousa did not consider this conducting per se, because he led the orchestra while playing first violin. As a conductor whose capacity was strictly conducting, his first position was with the Philadelphia Church Choir Company in their production of H.M.S. Pinafore. Their first rehearsals were held late in 1878, Sousa’s apparent point of reference.
The inspiration came with considerable difficulty, even for Sousa. He searched for suitable melodies for five months, but nothing was forthcoming. Then suddenly the inspiration came, and within a day’s time he had the march sketched in its entirety. His thoughts were recorded in the 1928 tour programs:
I’ve always been inspired by an occasion and as I thought of the golden jubilee and of all it meant to me – fifty years of band [sic] leading – I seemed to see the world passing in review. There they were, peoples of every land – on parade, at great music festivals, going to war, at expositions, attending the opera, in the home – listening to a march. So the music took form and then “The Golden Jubilee March” was ready for placing on paper.
Paul E. Bierley, The Works of John Philip Sousa (Westerville, Ohio: Integrity Press, 1984), 57. Used by permission.
*PLEASE NOTE: Not all marches from Volume 6 are in the public domain and have Marine Band editions. Recordings of non-PD marches are only available for streaming on YouTube. To purchase a published edition of this march, please visit the sheet music vendor of your choice.