“The Thunderer” (1889)
Other than the fact that Sousa’s “thunderer” was undoubtedly a Mason, his identity may never be revealed. “The Thunderer” march was dedicated to Columbia Commandery No. 2, Knights Templar, of Washington, D.C., and it was composed on the occasion of the Twenty-fourth Triennial Conclave of the Grand Encampment. The conclave was held in October 1889 and was sponsored by Columbia Commandery No. 2. Sousa had been “knighted” in that organization three years earlier. “The Thunderer” was Mrs. John Philip Sousa’s favorite march. This was revealed by their daughter Helen, who also surmised that the “thunderer” might have been her father’s salute to the London Times, which was known as “the thunderer.” It has since been determined that Sousa probably had no association with the newspaper at that time, however. The “thunderer” might have been one of the men in charge of making arrangements for the 1889 conclave–in particular, Myron M. Parker, who worked tirelessly to make the event the spectacular success that it was.
Paul E. Bierley, The Works of John Philip Sousa (Westerville, Ohio: Integrity Press, 1984), 43. Used by permission.