“The High School Cadets” (1890)
The mutual admiration which existed between John Philip Sousa and the school bands of America has caused many musicians and writers to conclude that this march was composed as a salute to the school band movement. However, it was written twenty years before that movement had begun. It was composed at the solicitation of the marching cadet corps of the one and only Washington, D.C, high school in 1890 (later called Central High School) and was dedicated to the teachers and pupils.
The High School Cadets was another of the drill teams which were an exciting part of the capital city scene for many years after the Civil War. The members requested the march of Sousa, asking that he make an effort to make it superior to his “National Fencibles” march, which he had written for a rival cadet corps. In Sousa’s estimation, it was indeed a better march. The music world has concurred, because “The High School Cadets” has always been one of Sousa’s most popular marches.
The Cadets were invited to a Marine Band rehearsal to hear the march played. They liked what they heard and produced $24 to cover the cost of having the march published and copyrighted.
Paul E. Bierley, The Works of John Philip Sousa (Westerville, Ohio: Integrity Press, 1984), 43. Used by permission.