Wednesday, November 6, 2013

November 6 - John Philip Sousa

Conductor and composer John Philip Sousa, America’s “March King,” was born on November 6, 1854, in Washington, D.C. As a child playing the violin and studying music, it was found he had perfect pitch. At 13 he apprenticed with the U.S. Marine Band, in which his father was a trombonist. Starting in 1880 and for the next 12 years, he conducted that band and began writing marches – 136 over his lifetime. He also conducted "The President's Own" band for Presidents Hayes, Garfield, Cleveland, Arthur and Harrison. His greatest marches include "Semper Fidelis" (1888), the official march of the U.S. Marine Corps; "The Washington Post" (1889), named for the newspaper that commissioned it; "The Liberty Bell" (1893); and his greatest work, "Stars and Stripes Forever" (1896), with its piccolo obbligato, declared by Congress the National March of the United States. In 1892 he formed his own Sousa Band and developed the sousaphone (similar to the tuba). Sousa was also one of the world’s greatest trapshooters and helped found what became the Amateur Trapshooting Association.

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