John Philip SOUSA: The Best Music (Stars and Stripes forever,…)

John Philip SOUSA 

John Philip Sousa (1854 – 1932) was an American composer and conductor of the late Romantic era known primarily for American military marches. He is known as «The March King» or the «American March King», to distinguish him from his British counterpart Kenneth J. Alford who is also known as «The March King». Among his best-known marches are «The Stars and Stripes Forever» (National March of the United States of America), «Semper Fidelis» (official march of the United States Marine Corps), «The Liberty Bell», «The Thunderer», and «The Washington Post».

Sousa began his career playing violin and studying music theory and composition under John Esputa and George Felix Benkert. His father enlisted him in the United States Marine Band as an apprentice in 1868. He left the band in 1875 and learned to conduct. From 1880 until his death, he focused exclusively on conducting and writing music. He eventually rejoined the Marine Band and served there for 12 years as director, after which he organized his own band. Sousa aided in the development of the sousaphone, a large brass instrument similar to the helicon and tuba.

Upon the outbreak of World War I, Sousa was awarded a wartime commission of lieutenant commander to lead the Naval Reserve Band in Illinois. He then returned to conduct the Sousa Band until his death in 1932. (In the 1920s, he was promoted to the permanent rank of lieutenant commander in the naval reserve, but he never saw active service again.)


Since its première in Philadelphia on May 14, 1897, “The Stars and Stripes Forever” has easily secured its place as the most popular and widely recognized march of all time. For more than a century, it has captured the spirit of American patriotism perhaps better than any other composition. During the heyday of the Sousa Band, the march was performed as an encore at the end of nearly every concert. Audiences expected, and sometimes even demanded to hear the piece and eventually began to stand upon recognizing its opening bars as if it were the national anthem. By Act of Congress, “The Stars and Stripes Forever” became America’s national march in 1987.


During the 1880s, several Washington, D.C., newspapers competed vigorously for public favor. One of these, the Washington Post, organized what was known as the Washington Post Amateur Authors’ Association and sponsored an essay contest for school children. Frank Hatton and Beriah Wilkins, owners of the newspaper, asked Sousa, then leader of the Marine Band, to compose a march for the award ceremony.

The ceremony was held on the Smithsonian grounds on June 15, 1889. President Harrison and other dignitaries were among the huge crowd. When the new march was played by Sousa and the Marine Band, it was enthusiastically received, and within days it became exceptionally popular in Washington.


“The Thunderer” march was dedicated to Columbia Commandery No. 2, Knights Templar, of Washington, D.C., and it was composed on the occasion of the Twenty-fourth Triennial Conclave of the Grand Encampment. The conclave was held in October 1889 and was sponsored by Columbia Commandery No. 2. Sousa had been “knighted” in that organization three years earlier.
“The Thunderer” was Mrs. John Philip Sousa’s favorite march.


The march was addressed to no particular nation, but to all of America’s friends abroad. It has been suggested that Sousa was inspired by an incident in the Spanish-American War, in which Captain Chichester of the British Navy came to the support of Admiral Dewey at Manila Bay. A second (and more likely) source is a line by Frere, which was printed on the front cover of the sheet music: “A sudden thought strikes me—let us swear an eternal friendship.”


This is a beautiful little-known march by John Philip Sousa.

Listen to more music by Sousa on the YouTube channel:
U.S. Marine Band
#sousa #starsandstripes #themarchking

0:00 The Stars and Stripes Forever

3:36 The Washington Post

6:14 The Thunderer

8:59 Hands Across the Sea

11:50 Sound Off Alert