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"The President's Own"


"The President's Own"

United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
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Happy 221st Birthday Marine Band!

By Staff Sgt. Charles Baran | United States Marine Band | July 9, 2019


This week the United States Marine Band turns 221 years old! Celebrate with us at 8 p.m., Wednesday, July 10, and Thursday, July 11, on the west steps of the U.S. Capitol for a program featuring pieces selected to celebrate this special anniversary.

The Marine Band traces its founding to an Act of Congress signed by President John Adams on July 11, 1798, which both reorganized the U.S. Marine Corps and called for 32 drummers and fifers. It was this action which established the Marine Band as America’s oldest continuously active professional musical organization.

To commemorate this important date, the program has been selected based on important figures and moments in the band’s past.

Directors of the United States Marine Band have often arranged, transcribed or composed original music for the ensemble throughout its unique history. Such was the case for 19th Director William H. Santelmann’s march “Thomas Jefferson,” named after the man responsible for the band’s moniker “The President’s Own.” The piece was composed in 1903 for the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association of the United States, an organization formed to honor our nation’s founding father and third president.

Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Taylor Branson was the 20th Leader of the United States Marine Band. He enlisted in the band at age 17 and was appointed Leader in 1927, after having served six years as Second Leader under William H. Santelmann. Branson’s march “Marine Corps Institute” paid tribute to its namesake organization, which provided ongoing professional education to Marines. In the spirit of the piece, a member of the Marine Band Conductor Training Program, Staff Sgt. Cecilia Buettgen, will take the director’s podium for this march.

The John Philip Sousa march “Semper Fidelis” gets its title from the motto of the U.S. Marine Corps, a Latin phrase meaning “always faithful.” The march’s trio is an extension of an earlier Sousa composition, “With Steady Step,” one of eight brief trumpet and drum pieces he wrote for The Trumpet and Drum (1886). It was dedicated to those who inspired it—the officers and men of the U.S. Marine Corps. Musically speaking, Sousa considered it his best march, and eventually “Semper Fidelis” gained recognition as the official march of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Interspersed throughout the concert are a variety of other non-march selections which maintain special ties with the Marine Band:

The transcription of Alexander Glazunov‘s Finale from Symphony No. 5 was written by 24th Director Jack T. Kline, and that of Franz von SuppĂ©’s Vienna Jubilee Overture was created by 25th Marine Band Director John R. Bourgeois.

Also included is Pietro Mascagni’s Intermezzo Sinfonico from Cavalleria rusticana, which was conducted by Bourgeois for a 1985 NPR performance for the 185th Anniversary of the White House.

Under the baton of 26th Director Timothy Foley, Pride of a People was taken on the 2001 National Concert Tour in the wake of terrorist attacks on September 11th. Pieced together by former Marine Band Arranger Master Sgt. Stephen Bulla, the song weaves together three songs that have become an integral part of American culture: “This is My Country,” “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” and “My Country ‘tis of Thee.”

Walter M. Smith’s Bolero, a favorite feature of 22nd Director Albert F. Schoepper, will appear alongside extracted movements from Robert Russell Bennett’s Suite of Old American Dances, which will be performed in the same order as Schoepper performed them (3,2,1).

The concerts are free and tickets are not required. Inclement weather announcements will be made by 6 p.m. on the band’s Concert Information Line at (202) 433-4011. Limited street parking is available. For concerts at the Capitol, patrons may travel via Metro and take the red line to Union Station or the blue, orange, or silver lines to the Capitol South station.

Complete Program and Notes

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