“The Gallant Seventh” (1922)
It is amazing that this march, regarded as one of Sousa’s finest and certainly one of his most vigorous, was composed while he was recuperating from a broken neck. The march takes its title from the 7th Regiment, 107th Infantry, of the New York National Guard, whose history may be traced back to the Civil War. The conductor of the famous 7th Regiment Band was Major Francis Sutherland, a former Sousa Band cornetist.
Upon America’s entry into World War I, Sutherland left his position with Sousa to enlist in the army; he was made a bandmaster in the U.S. Field Artillery. Several other Sousa men then secured their release to enlist, some for service with Sutherland’s band.
Sutherland did not return to the Sousa Band at the war’s end; he accepted the position of bandmaster of the 7th Regiment. The regiment’s commanding officer, Colonel Wade H. Hayes, made a formal request of Sousa for a march. Sousa obliged, paying tribute to the organizational ability and professional standing of one of his band’s alumni. For the official send-off of the new march at the New York Hippodrome on November 5, 1922, Sutherland’s 7th Regiment Band augmented the Sousa Band on stage.
Although no less than seven other composers had also written marches for this regiment, Sousa’s was the only one to gain wide acceptance, and Sousa was named honorary bandmaster of the regiment. Many years later, Sutherland repaid his debt to Sousa in an appropriate way. He was one of eight founders of the living Sousa memorial known as the Sousa Band Fraternal Society.
Paul E. Bierley, The Works of John Philip Sousa (Westerville, Ohio: Integrity Press, 1984), 54. Used by permission.