“The Volunteers” (1918)
The man who asked Sousa to compose this march (Robert D. Heinl, chief of the Department of Patriotic Service) also requested that he include sounds characteristic of a shipyard. Sousa thought this unusual for a march, but he complied. Sections of the march were named “The Call to March,” “Getting Busy,” and “Laying the Keel Blocks,” and the score called for sirens, anvils, and a riveting machine.
The march was given a stirring première at the New York Hippodrome on March 3, 1918, by the combined bands of the navy’s Atlantic fleet, Sousa conducting. It was dedicated to Edward N. Hurley, chairman of the U.S. Shipping Board, and to the ship-builders who were constructing America’s emergency fleet. Sousa was dissatisfied with a riveting machine made to his specifications by a Chicago instrument manufacturer and called upon the Hippodrome sound effects man. A huge noise-maker was devised and used with ear-shattering effectiveness. Many people were puzzled at the departure from Sousa’s usual march style, but he was merely fulfilling a request.
Paul E. Bierley, The Works of John Philip Sousa (Westerville, Ohio: Integrity Press, 1984), 94. Used by permission.