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"The President's Own"


"The President's Own"

United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
Unit News
The Complete Marches of John Philip Sousa: Vol. 6

By Staff Sgt. Chase Baran | United States Marine Band | April 8, 2020


On April 6, 2020, the United States Marine Band released Volume 6 of The Complete Marches of John Philip Sousa. This multi-year recording project offers a wealth of free, in-depth educational resources including full scores, individual parts, historical notes, recordings, performance practices, and scrolling score videos.

PLEASE NOTE: Only six marches from Volume 6 are in the public domain and presently have Marine Band editions. Recordings of non-PD marches are only available for streaming on YouTube. To purchase a published edition of one of those marches, please visit the sheet music vendor of your choice.

View the entire collection here.

Listen to Volume 6 YouTube playlist.

With the release of this sixth volume, recordings for 19 Sousa marches have been added to the collection, bringing the total number of available marches to 114 out of the 136 that Sousa composed. This particular installment includes pieces from the years 1922 through 1928, a time when the United States was neither in the throngs of war nor in the grasp of the Great Depression.

Each score was carefully edited and annotated by Col. Fettig and Music Production Chief Master Gunnery Sgt. Donald Patterson, and then performed and recorded by musicians of “The President’s Own.” The musical decisions included in these editions were influenced by the work of several outstanding Sousa scholars combined with many decades of Marine Band performance tradition. These editions would not be possible without the exceptional contributions to the study of Sousa’s marches by Capt. Frank Byrne (USMC, ret.), Jonathan Elkus, Col. Timothy Foley (USMC, ret.), Loras Schissel, Dr. Patrick Warfield, and “The March King’s” biographer, the late Paul Bierley.

The Marches:

In 1928, Sousa commemorated 50 years of conducting with the creation of one of his most brilliant marches – “Golden Jubilee.” In actuality, his conducting career began 53 years earlier in 1875 as first violinist and leader of the orchestra for a traveling theater troupe. It was not until 1878 that Sousa’s role shifted solely to conducting while with the Philadelphia Church Choir Company in their production of H.M.S. Pinafore – his apparent point of reference when celebrating five decades on the podium. His thoughts on the piece were recorded in tour programs from 1928:

I’ve always been inspired by an occasion and as I thought of the golden jubilee and of all it meant to me – fifty years of band [sic] leading – I seemed to see the world passing in review. There they were, peoples of every land – on parade, at great music festivals, going to war, at expositions, attending the opera, in the home – listening to a march. So the music took form and then “The Golden Jubilee March” was ready for placing on paper.

Initially hesitant to compose a piece for self-gratification, Sousa’s reasoned the piece was for a public which might expect something special for the occasion. As evidenced by many of Volume Six’s marches, Sousa was ever-able to please a crowd. Requests and dedications often guided the inspiration of “The March King’s” work.

Like “Golden Jubilee,” “The Atlantic City Pageant” was premiered at the Steel City Pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Reportedly written at the suggestion of Atlantic City’s mayor, the march celebrated the Sousa Band’s second annual appearance that the Pier, but Sousa probably also had in mind the Atlantic City Beauty Pageant, now known as the Miss America Pageant.

Several marches written during this period found inspiration from symbols important to American history:

“Old Ironsides” was composed in support of the restoration of the historic namesake vessel, otherwise known as the USS Constitution. During a fundraising rally at Madison Square Garden in New York, Sousa led bands of the Marine Corps, Navy and Army - though it is unclear whether the piece was played at the rally, enough money was raised to keep it the world’s floating warship seaworthy.

Sousa honored a request by the International Magna Charta Day Association, to compose “Magna Charta as a tribute to the document written in 1215 which outlines many liberties that have greatly influenced the framework of the United States Constitution and the laws of many other countries.

Sesquicentennial Exposition March was written for the 150th anniversary of American independence, and subsequent celebrations in Philadelphia. Sousa composed this march at the request of exposition officials and dedicated it to the mayor of Philadelphia.

Other pieces took shape around various places, organizations and institutions throughout the country:

“The Pride of the Wolverines,” was similarly dedicated to the mayor and city of Detroit, after Mayor John W. Smith requested the march for the Sousa Bands 1925 appearance in Motor City. The piece was later made the official march of Detroit.

Sousa became a member of the Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine in Washington in 1922, and was named the first honorary director of the Almas Temple Shrine Band. “Nobles of the Mystic Shrine was dedicated specifically to the Almas Temple and Imperial Council, but also served to salute all Shriners. It is worth noting that Sousa once led a huge band of 6,200 Shriners during their 1923 national convention, and in the last years of the Sousa Band approximately half the members were Shriners.

“The Gridiron Club” grew out of Sousa’s long-time association with the namesake organization of journalists in Washington, D.C. When Sousa died in 1932, a sizable delegation of the organization attended his funeral, and the Gridiron Club Quartet provided the only music.

The Minnesota March and “University of Nebraska” were both created at the behest of their respective schools. The University of Minnesota football coach and alumni organization pushed for a march, which was later presented at the Minnesota State Fair in 1927. Sousa included limited Indian themes, inspired by the prevalence of Indian names throughout the state, and later added field drum and bugle parts from the 206th National Guard Infantry Regiment of Minnesota.

Sousa had apparently promised the University of Nebraska a march, and was reminded of that promise in a letter from the university’s chancellor, E. A. Burnett:

“We have not forgotten your promise to write a march for the University of Nebraska when you are in the mood and feel the impulse to glorify the great rolling prairies where we are trying to build a new appreciation of music and art.”

The president of the University of New Mexico also requested a march, but that a title be used not to honor the school, but the entire state. “New Mexico” was Sousa’s answer to the call, dedicating this march with a unique blend of Spanish, Indian and American influences to the governor and people of the “Land of Enchantment.”

Not all of the marches Sousa crafted for schools were by request, however. Marquette University March and “The Dauntless Battalion” were drafted in gratitude to their corresponding institutions. The former recognized the Wisconsin school which issued Sousa its first-ever honorary Doctor of Music degree, while the latter saluted the faculty and cadets of the Pennsylvania Military College which also awarded him an honorary doctorate.

Sousa also continued to fulfill requests from military units at this time:

“Riders for the Flag” is Sousa’s only march with a coda, and was dedicated to Colonel Osmun Latrobe, and the officers and men of the 4th U.S. Cavalry.

“The Black Horse Troop” was written for Troop A, a mounted unit in the Cleveland National Guard which exclusively used black horses. As director of the U.S. Marine Band, Sousa first marched with Troop A in the 1881 funeral procession for President James A. Garfield, and again in 1898 when the Sousa Band joined the parade which escorted the troop to trains bound for the Spanish-American War. Many former Sousa Band members expressed their fondness for this composition due to the 6/8 rhythm, which suggests the canter of horses.

“Auld Lang Syne” was the marching song of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Boston, the oldest military organization in the United States. When the Sousa Band visited Boston in 1923, the company requested that Sousa compose a march incorporating the song so dear to them. The result was “Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company,” a tune that expands on and plays off of the straightforward melody.

Also included in this volume are “The National Game” written for the 50th anniversary of baseball’s National League; March of the Mitten Men, later known asPower and Glory,” which incorporated the hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers” to recognize the top executive and workers of the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company, whose trolleys brought visitors to Willow Grove Park, a frequent stop for Sousa Band performances; and “Prince Charming” dedicated to a youth orchestra Sousa once conducted in Los Angeles.

Paul E. Bierley, The Works of John Philip Sousa (Westerville, Ohio: Integrity Press, 1984), 40, 41, 42, 49, 57, 58, 69, 70, 71, 73, 74, 75, 79, 80, 83, 92. Used by permission.

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