About this Recording
8.559093 - SOUSA, J.P.: Music for Wind Band, Vol. 4 (Royal Artillery Band, Brion)
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John Philip Sousa (1854-1932)

John Philip Sousa (1854-1932)

Works for Wind Band, Volume 4

 

John Philip Sousa personified turn-of-the-century America, the comparative innocence and brash energy of a still new nation. His ever-touring band represented America across the globe and brought music to hundreds of American towns. John Philip Sousa, born on 6th November, 1854, reached this exalted position with startling quickness. In 1880, at the age of 26, he became conductor of the U.S. Marine Band. In twelve years the vastly improved ensemble won high renown and Sousa’s compositions earned him the title of “The March King.” Sousa went one better with the formation of his own band in 1892, bringing world acclaim. In its first seven years the band gave 3500 concerts; in an era of train and ship travel it logged over a million miles in nearly four decades. There were European tours in 1900, 1901, 1903, and 1905, and a world tour in 1910-11, the zenith of the band era.

 

The unprecedented popularity of the Sousa Band came at a time when few American orchestras existed. From the Civil War to about 1920, band concerts were the most important aspect of American musical life. No finer band than Sousa’s was ever heard. Sousa modified the brass band by decreasing the brass and percussion instruments, increasing its woodwinds, and adding a harp. His conducting genius attracted the finest musicians, enabling him to build an ensemble capable of executing programmes almost as varied as those of a symphony orchestra. The Sousa Band became the standard by which American bands were measured, causing a dramatic upgrading in quality nationally.

 

Sousa’s compositions also spread his fame. Such marches as The Stars and Stripes Forever, El Capitan, Washington Post, and Semper Fidelis are universally acknowledged as the best of the genre. Sousa said a march “should make a man with a wooden leg step out”, and his surely did. Although he standardised the march form as it is known today, he was no mere maker of marches, but an exceptionally inventive composer of over two hundred works, including symphonic poems, suites, operas and operettas. His principles of instrumentation and tonal colour influenced many classical composers. His robust, patriotic operettas of the 1890s helped introduce a truly native musical attitude in American theatre.

 

The library of Sousa’s Band contained over 10,000 titles. Among them are the band compositions of Sousa including the 136 marches and numerous other scores. This new series, Sousa: Music for Wind Band, seeks to record them for the world to hear.

 

[1]  Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (1922)

Sousa composed the incredibly colourful march Nobles of the Mystic Shrine to commemorate his admission to the Shrine in Washington DC. He conducted the première with an enormous band of 6200 Shriners in Washington’s Griffith’s baseball stadium.

 

[2]  Sesqui-Centennial Exposition (1926)

Composed for an exposition in Philadelphia celebrating the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Sesqui-Centennial Exposition march is also particularly appropriate for the celebration of Sousa’s own sesqui-centennial of his birth in 1854. It features a chime solo evocative of the Liberty Bell.

 

[3 – 5]  Tales of a Traveler (1911)

The suite Tales of a Traveler commemorates aspects of the Sousa Band’s landmark 1911 tour around the world. The first movement, The Kaffir on the Karroo is descriptive of native dances of the Karroo in South Africa. The second, In the Land of the Golden Fleece, a romantic waltz, was dedicated “To the Matrons and Maids of Australia”. The final movement Coronation March was intended to be used at the coronation of King George V, but it was never performed for that purpose, causing Sousa to change the title to Grand Promenade at the White House. In 1928 he composed an entirely new substitute for this movement called Easter Monday on the White House Lawn.

 

[6]   Riders for the Flag (1927)

A sturdy, jaunty calvary march, Riders for the Flag was composed for the Fourth U.S. Cavalry and bears unmistakable signs of its equine and military inspirations.

 

[7]  Ancient and Honorable Artillery Co. (1924)

The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Co. of Boston is the oldest military organization in the United States. Sousa composed his march at their request and included their marching song Auld Lang Syne. It was formally presented to them at a concert in Symphony Hall Boston in September 1924.

 

[8]  Coeds of Michigan (1925)

The lilting and romantic waltz Coeds of Michigan was dedicated “To the Faculty and Students of the University of Michigan”.

 

[9]  Pathfinder of Panama (1915)

Pathfinder of Panama was composed for the Sousa Band’s long residency at the San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition in the summer of 1915. The Sousa Band appeared alongside an all-star symphony orchestra conducted by Camille Saint-Saëns.

 

[10]  The Glory of the Yankee Navy (1909)

One of Sousa’s finest marches, The Glory of the Yankee Navy is based on material first taken from a musical comedy The Yankee Girl, and later evolved into the martial version heard today.

 

[11]  Bride Elect Selections (1898)

The Bride Elect is a Sousa operetta that was first staged in 1897. The story is a typically goofy tale of two farcical kingdoms which become involved over the shooting of the king’s goat. As a proper reparation for the offence, a peace commission finally decides on the King’s marriage to the princess of the offending country, thus making the opposing princess the bride elect. From this highly charming music, Sousa extracted one of his finest and most delightful operetta selections. It concludes with a setting of his popular Bride Elect March.

[12] The Aviators (1931)

The march The Aviators is dedicated to William J. Moffett, the man responsible for Sousa’s commission in the American Navy during World War I. Moffett was later to become a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy’s Bureau of Aeronautics and is credited as the father of the aircraft carrier. It is thought that the Sousa Band featured the sounds of an aeroplane engine when performing this march.

 

[13] The Stars and Stripes Forever (1896)

With the possible exception of The Star Spangled Banner, no musical composition has done more to arouse the patriotic spirit of America than The Stars and Stripes Forever, John Philip Sousa’s most beloved composition. It is the official national march of the United States. Symbolic of flag-waving in general, it has been used with considerable effectiveness to generate patriotic feeling ever since its introduction in Philadelphia on 14th May, 1897, when the staid Public Ledger reported: “. . .It is stirring enough to rouse the American eagle from his crag, and set him to shriek exultantly while he hurls his arrows at the aurora borealis”. The Stars and Stripes Forever had found its place in history. There was a vigorous response wherever it was performed, and audiences began to rise as though it were the national anthem. This became traditional at Sousa Band concerts. It was his practice to have the cornets, trumpets, trombones, and piccolos line up at the front of the stage for the final trio, and this added to the excitement. Many bands still perform it.

 

By almost any musical standard, The Stars and Stripes Forever is a masterpiece, even without its patriotic significance, but by virtue of that patriotic significance it is by far the most popular march ever written, and its popularity is by no means limited to the United States. Abroad, it has always symbolized America.

 

Keith Brion

The Royal Artillery Band

 

The Royal Artilllery Band had their ‘drum and fife’ as long ago as 1557, but it was the need for a ‘band of musik’ in the regiment that led to the formation of the Royal Artillery Band in 1762. Since 1764, the band has been quartered with the Royal Artillery Regiment in Woolwich, in South-east London. Today the band employs over fifty musicians who, in keeping with tradition, must be accomplished on both orchestral and wind band instruments. The band may appear on one day as a symphonic wind band (one of the largest in the British army), the next as a marching unit, and at another time as a full symphony orchestra (England’s oldest established symphony orchestra). The current Director of Music is Major Stephen Smith, and the Bandmaster is Warrant Officer Russell Gray.

 

 

Keith Brion

 

Keith Brion, Music Director of his own New Sousa Band, has appeared as a frequent guest conductor with nearly all of America’s major symphony orchestras and professional bands. His New Sousa Band, established in 1986, is a realisation of his dream to re-create the Sousa Band and once again tour America’s towns and cities.   He has toured extensively in the East, Middle West and the Southeastern United States with the New Sousa Band, which had its first overseas tour to Japan in August 1996. For Naxos Keith Brion has undertaken a series of recordings of works by Sousa, and has also recorded collections of music by Percy Grainger, Victor Herbert and Alan Hovhaness. He maintains an active career as an orchestra conductor, presenting his popular Sousa revival concerts with orchestras such as the Boston Pops, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the St. Louis, Dallas, Houston, Utah, Minnesota and Milwaukee symphonies. His overseas orchestral engagements have included appearances with the London Concert Orchestra, New Zealand Symphony, and the Gothenburg Symphony. Keith Brion is a former Director of Bands at Yale University, where he led the Yale Band in concerts at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, and in an all-Ives programme at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw. Before moving to Yale, he was the founder and music director of the North Jersey Wind Symphony and a long-time band educator and music supervisor in the New Jersey public schools. He has published thirty editions for band, including the music of Charles Ives, Percy Grainger, John Philip Sousa and D.W. Reeves, and is the author of numerous articles.

 

 

 

 

 

Programme notes by Keith Brion are freely based on material taken from The Works of John Philip Sousa, Integrity Press,

with the express permission of the author, Paul E. Bierley. The introduction is extracted from Roger Ruggeri’s

programme notes for the Milwaukee Symphony.

 

Special thanks for their assistance in preparing this recording to: Loras Schissel, Sousa Collection, Library of Congress,

John Sousa IV, Pres., John Philip Sousa Inc., Paul E. Bierley, Sousa’s biographer, The United States Marine Band,

and The Sousa Collection at the University of Illinois


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