“The Diplomat” (1904)
What is the inspiration for many of the suites and arrangements, for which Lieutenant Commander John Philip Sousa, the famous bandmaster, who comes to Bangor, Wednesday, September 19th, would have won a place in the American musical history, had he never written a single march?
“A good tenderloin steak, German fried potatoes and plenty of bread and butter,” answers the March King.I remember that one of my best marches, from the standpoint of lasting popularity, was written with the best tenderloin I ever had tasted for an inspiration. The march was “The Diplomat” and the city was Mitchell, South Dakota, and mentally at least, I dedicated the march to the unseen cook who prepared that tenderloin.
While mentally dedicated to Mitchell’s unnamed chef, the march was in actuality dedicated to Secretary of State John Milton Hay, whose diplomatic skill had impressed the composer. When performing this march in the prime of his career, Sousa gave a subtle but highly pleasing display of conducting excellence for the benefit of both his audiences and his musicians. The first section of the march has a catchy melody which he had the band phrase and accent in a style different from the printed music. As the late Dr. Frank Simon, former Sousa Band solo cornetist remarked, “When the ‘Governor’ conducted this march, we could literally visualize the graceful swagger of a handsome diplomat, top hat, tux, striped trousers and all, strutting down the street, nodding cheerfully here and there.”
Paul E. Bierley, The Works of John Philip Sousa (Westerville, Ohio: Integrity Press, 1984), 43. Used by permission.