The Marine Band’s March of the Month for May is “Independentia” by R. B. Hall and the Director’s Choice is “For ‘The President’s Own’” by John Williams.
R. B. Hall, also known as the New England March King, was born in Maine in 1858 and was a virtuoso cornet player and bandmaster. When he wasn’t performing with or conducting bands, he was writing music for them. In all, he composed 112 marches before his untimely death in 1907 at age 48. He left a lasting musical impression, though; the citizens of Waterville, Maine, erected a bandstand in his honor in 1936 and organized the R. B. Hall Memorial Band in the 1960s. In addition, the Maine State legislature designated in 1981 that the last Saturday of June each year would be “R. B. Hall Day” and many communities to this day continue to celebrate Hall’s legacy with traditional outdoor band concerts.
It was the small-town community bands that inspired Hall, and his march, “Independentia,” was no exception. Written in 1895, it was dedicated to the Independent Order of Oddfellows, a fraternal and service-oriented organization whose emblem stands for Friendship, Love and Truth. Scholars have said that “Independentia” is one of Hall’s finest marches and demonstrates his simple and understated themes, elegant use of dynamics, and unexpected and creative use of rests to keep listeners on the edge of their seats.
Director’s Choice is John Williams’ “For ‘The President’s Own.’” The son of a jazz drummer, Williams studied piano and composition at the University of California at Los Angeles and The Juilliard School in New York City. By the time he was in his late twenties, Williams was an active jazz and studio pianist and began composing music for television and films. In 1974 he met an ambitious young director named Steven Spielberg, forging one of the most successful partnerships in the history of filmmaking. That year, the two worked together on a film called “Sugarland Express” starring Goldie Hawn and a year later teamed up again for “Jaws.” It wasn’t long before Williams’ music garnered international attention unlike any American composer since Sousa. Williams has written the music for some of the most popular films of all time and dozens of his memorable themes have reached iconic status worldwide. He also ranks among the most honored film composers of all time, with a total of five Academy Awards, four Golden Globes, and 21 GRAMMY Awards. He has been nominated for a total of twenty-four Golden Globes and 59 GRAMMYs, and his 48 Oscar nominations are the most ever achieved by a living person.
Throughout his highly successful career as a film composer, Williams has also composed music for the concert hall. Many of these works have been concerti written for specific artists; often close friends and valued collaborators of the composer. Inspired by the virtuosic performance abilities of the members of “The President’s Own,” Williams’ spirited work weaves together bright fanfares from the high brass, exciting rhythmic woodwind interjections, pulsing bass lines, along with many other motives, each with their own gripping kinetic energy. Having conducted the United States Marine Band in their 205th and 210th anniversary concerts, maestro Williams wrote “For ‘The President’s Own’” in celebration of the ensemble’s 215th anniversary.
Download “For ‘The President’s Own’”