“The Triton” (1892)
The musical revisions and the abundance of titles given to this composition have resulted in music confusion. In spite of all efforts to make it popular, it was a multiple flop.
Included in Evening Pastime, the 1879 collection of solos arranged by Sousa for violin and piano, was a short march by J. Molloy called “The Triton.” This was published by J. F. Shaw of Philadelphia.
The composition grew from a simple arrangement to a march in 1892 when a second Philadelphia publisher, J. W. Pepper, entered the scene. Sousa added two more melodies to his original arrangement, and the new version was published for band as “The Triton Medley March.” Whether or not these two additional melodies are Sousa’s is not known.
Pepper published an edition for piano as “Triton March” in 1896 and then confused the public by publishing the same composition under a different title, “Souvenir.” “Souvenir” was distributed free at a music exposition; hence its new title.
The confusion was compounded in 1900 when still another version was published as “Paris Exposition.” It was in the first issue of Pepper’s new periodical, the Piano Music Magazine. This version had been altered by an arranger who changed the last two sections from 6/8 to 2/4 rhythm and omitted a da capo repeat.
By this time, Sousa was publishing with a third Philadelphia firm, John Church, who apparently avoided the march. The persistent Pepper was not yet finished, however, for he republished the march for piano as “The Triton Two-Step” in 1906. After this failed, he capitulated.
Paul E. Bierley, The Works of John Philip Sousa (Westerville, Ohio: Integrity Press, 1984), 43. Used by permission.