About this Recording
8.559690 - SOUSA, J.P.: Music for Wind Band, Vol. 11 (Royal Swedish Navy Band, Brion)

John Philip Sousa (1854–1932)
Works for Wind Band, Volume 11


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 6 November 1854, reached this exalted position with startling quickness. In 1880, at the age of 26, he became conductor of the US 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 US 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 programs 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 standardized the march form as it is known today, he was no mere maker of marches, but an exceptionally inventive composer of over 200 works, including symphonic poems, suites, operas and operettas. His principles of instrumentation and tonal color influenced many classical composers. His robust, patriotic operettas of the 1890s helped introduce a truly native musical attitude in American theater.

[1] Mother Hubbard March (1885)

Sousa, then the proud new father of two infant children, John Philip Sousa II (b. 1881) and Jane Priscilla (b. 1883), composed the clever and witty Mother Hubbard March based on seven nursery tunes: Three Blind Mice, Thus the Farmer Sows his Seed, Old Mother Hubbard, Hey Diddle Diddle, Little Redbird in the Tree, London Bridge, and The Minstrel Boy.

[2] Keeping Step With the Union March (1921)

The inspiration for Keeping Step With the Union March probably came from an 1855 address by the American congressman and raconteur Rufus Choate. An excerpt from his speech is printed on the sheet music: “We join ourselves to no party that does not carry the flag and keep step to the music of the Union.” The composition was dedicated to Mrs Warren G. Harding, wife of the President. Sousa added his own patriotic verses. The composition is developed with all of the sophisticated detail of Sousa’s most advanced march style of the 1920s.

[3] In Parlor and Street Fantasy (1880)

The expansive, uniquely inventive and masterfully orchestrated score of the In Parlor and Street Fantasy overflows with a delightful mixture of popular tunes, operetta melodies, and such operatic favorites as the Anvil Chorus from Verdi’s Il trovatore. It was composed about the time Sousa assumed leadership of the Marine Band and was obviously designed to show off the tremendous potential he saw for his new band. Many sections are linked with instrumental cadenzas designed to show the prowess of the Marine Band’s principal players. The finale is a setting of Sousa’s humorous song about kissing: Smick, Smack Smuck, used here without words as a wild instrumental gallop. Even though the contemporary context of many of the selections in his arrangement may have faded long ago, Sousa’s setting remains as delightful, powerful and beautifully alive as ever.

[4] Wolverine March (1881)

Another of Sousa’s early creations for his Marine Band, the superb parade march Wolverine March was given its première at a reception held by the Michigan State Association in Washington DC. Wolverine March should not be confused with Sousa’s better-known 1926 march The Pride of the Wolverines (Naxos 8.559131).

[5] Globe and Eagle March (1879)

The Globe and Eagle is the official emblem of the US Marine Band. Paul Bierley, Sousa’s biographer, has conjectured that Sousa, who was then conducting an orchestra in Philadelphia, may have already been anticipating the possibility of his appointment as Marine Band director. Sousa did finally assume his position with the Marine Band on 30 September 1880.

[6] In Pulpit and Pew Fantasy (1917)

Since Sousa’s touring band often performed concerts on Sundays, over the years Sousa created several different settings of hymn tunes. His fantasy In Pulpit and Pew links together settings of Onward Christian Soldiers, There is a Green Hill Far Away, Jesus Lover of My Soul, Sun of My Soul, Abide with Me, and Adeste Fideles.

[7] On Parade March (1892)

Composed as part of the incidental music for Sousa’s orchestration of Goodwin and Stahl’s operetta The Lion Tamer this march was later re-titled On Parade for performances during the first tours of Sousa’s own professional band. The trio contains a repeated motif on a single pitch perhaps depicting the menace of a lion’s roar.

Sousa left the US Marines in 1892 to create his own band. At that time it is interesting to note that the official military marching tempo in Washington was accelerated from approximately 112 to 120 beats per minute, perhaps reflecting the popularity and brighter tempo of the two-step which was then the rage and often danced to military marches.

[8] Tally Ho Overture (1886)

This delightfully upbeat and melodic overture for a play written by Sousa’s friend Joaquin Miller was composed during Sousa’s eventful time as conductor of the United States Marine Band.

[9] We Are Coming March (1918)

In addition to his approximately 135 marches Sousa composed several march-like arrangements of his song settings. In 1918 a magazine had sponsored a contest to find the best text for an inspiring patriotic war song. Sousa then composed original music to fit the winning verses. Later he made the all-instrumental version heard here. While Sousa’s “songs as marches” do not have the expanded forms of his better known marches they do showcase his ever-inventive compositional powers.

[10] Liberty Loan March (1917)

Liberty Loan was the name given to the World War I US Government bonds sold in support of the war effort. Sousa’s march became very popular since the Liberty Loan was recorded on the reverse side of his best selling early Victor disc of the US Field Artillery March. That recording sold an amazing 400,000 copies. Chimes simulate the sound of the Liberty Bell.

[11] National Fencibles March (1888)

The National Fencibles March is dedicated to the National Fencibles, a popular drill team in Washington DC and part of what is now the District of Columbia National Guard. The full title was The March Past of the National Fencibles. Sousa later composed marches for two very similar Washington marching groups, The High School Cadets and the Corcoran Cadets.

[12] Guide Right March (1881)

Sousa’s early days with the US Marine Band inspired many new marches written to be performed for the band’s daily parade and ceremonial duties. In addition to drilling at the Marine Barracks it should be remembered that the Marine Band of that time often paraded and played down the city’s streets to various locations where they performed, including the White House and the US Capitol.

[13] You’re the Flower of my Heart – Sweet Adeline Fantasy (1930)

Composed in the style of his earlier humoresques but near the end of Sousa’s long career, the rambling score of the Sweet Adeline Fantasy intersperses popular and operatic tunes of the day with the barbershop favorite Sweet Adeline.

[14] Bonnie Annie Laurie (1883)

Sousa thought that the old Scottish ballad Bonnie Annie Laurie was the most beautiful of all folk-songs. It begins with two strains of original Sousa materials. At the trio of this da capo march he introduces a delightful original tune that later turns out to be a counterpoint to Annie Laurie. Sousa was to use this charming compositional device again whenever his later marches were about to introduce well-known melodies.

Keith Brion

Program notes by Keith Brion are freely based on material taken from “The Works of John Philip Sousa,” Integrity Press with the expressed permission of the author, Paul E. Bierley. The introduction is extracted from Roger Ruggeri’s program 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; John Bierley, cover photo assistance, The Library of The United States Marine Band; Brian Holt, New Sousa Band, percussion consultation; and The Sousa Collection at the University of Illinois.

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