“The Circumnavigators Club” (1931)
To be admitted to the exclusive Circumnavigators Club of New York City, one must have “traveled around the world and have a sincere interest in foreign countries.” Sousa met these requirements easily. His fascination with countries abroad was obvious in his writings, speeches, and in the titles of his compositions. As for his circumnavigating the globe, he did it in a big way – with a band of fifty-three musicians on his payroll.
According to the dates of his manuscripts, this was Sousa’s last composition. He typed a note to the Circumnavigators Club, and this is filed at the Library of Congress with one of the two known manuscripts. The manuscript shows little unsteadiness of hand, but Sousa added a humorous apology at the end of the typed note, which reads in full:
“I am a member of Circumnavigators Club for the following reasons: I went from New York to London, from London on a tour in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales; sailed from Plymouth to Teneriffe, sailed again from Teneriffe to Capetown, toured South Africa, sailed from Capetown to Australia, toured that country, sailed from Melbourne to Tasmania, toured that country and sailed from there to New Zealand, toured that country and went from New Zealand to Suva, from Suva to Honolulu, from Honolulu to Vancouver, British Columbia, from British Columbia to New York. John Philip Sousa. Port Washington, Oct. 29th, 1931. God forgive my mistakes. I hope the copyist will.”
With Sousa as one of the honored guests, the new march was played for the Circumnavigators Club at their annual meeting on December 10, 1931, and was wildly applauded.
Paul E. Bierley, The Works of John Philip Sousa (Westerville, Ohio: Integrity Press, 1984), 45. Used by permission.
*PLEASE NOTE: Currently, none of the marches from Volume 7 are in the public domain. 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.