Skip to main content

Collection The March King: John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa Timeline

  • 1854

    John Philip Sousa born on November 6
    Father: John Antonio Sousa (1824-1892)
    Mother:Marie Elisabeth (Trinkaus) Sousa (1826-1908)

    Antonio and Elizabeth Sousa
  • 1861

    Begins music and violin studies with John Esputa

  • 1868

    Enlists as an "apprentice" in the U.S. Marine Band on June 9

  • 1871

    Honorably discharged from the Marines on December 31

  • 1872

    Begins second enlistment in the Marines on July 8

  • 1873

    Copyrights early compositions, "The Review March" and "The Cuckoo Galop"

  • 1874

    Honorably discharged from the Marines on May 18
    Studies composition with George Felix Benkert (until 1876)
    Becomes conductor of the Washington, D.C., Opera House (until 1877)
    Conducts road company in Matt Morgan’s Living Pictures (until 1878)
    Plays 1st violin under Offenbach at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia (until 1878)
    Plays in Mrs. Drew’s Arch Street Theater Orchestra in Philadelphia (until 1879)

  • 1875

    Conducts road company in The Phoenix throughout the U.S.

  • 1876

    Plays in Chestnut Street Theater Orchestra in Philadelphia

  • 1879

    Becomes music director of Gorman’s Philadelphia Church Choir Company in H.M.S. Pinafore
    Tours with H.M.S. Pinafore

  • 1879

    Marries Jane van Middlesworth (Bellis) on December 30, 1879

  • 1880

    Composes Our Flirtations (a play with music) and tours as conductor of the group
    Enlists in the Marines for a third time as leader, or principal musician

    Sousa in Marine Band uniform
  • 1880-92

    Serves as conductor of "The President’s Own," the U.S. Marine Band under presidents Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland, and Harrison

  • 1884

    Composes first successful operetta Desiree

  • 1889

    Composes "The Washington Post March," which brings him world fame--and $35 in royalties

  • 1891

    Takes the U.S. Marine Band on its first tour of the U.S.

  • 1892

    Honorably discharged from the Marines on July 30
    First concert by Sousa’s New Marine Band in Plainfield, NJ, on September 26
    Sousa Band tours annually, performing more than 15,000 concerts (until 1931)
    Sousa Band performs at the dedication of buildings at the World’s Columbian Exposition (World’s Fair) in Chicago in October

  • 1893

    Engaged by Theodore Thomas to play in concerts at World’s Columbian Exposition, May-June

  • 1895

    Completes full score for operetta El Capitan

  • 1896

    David Blakely (Sousa’s manager) dies in New York while Sousa is on vacation in Europe
    First performance of operetta El Capitan in Boston on April 13
    Completes piano score for "The Stars and Stripes Forever" on Christmas Day

  • 1897

    Completes band score for "The Stars and Stripes Forever" in Boston on April 26
    First performance of operetta The Bride Elect in New Haven, CT, on December 28

  • 1898

    First performance of operetta The Charlatan in Montreal, Canada, on August 29

  • 1900

    Begins engagement as the official American band at the Universal Exposition (World’s Fair) in Paris, France (also tours Europe), May-September

  • 1901

    Sousa Band tours Great Britain; first command performance at Sandringham on December 1

  • 1903

    Sousa Band again tours Great Britain

  • 1910

    Sousa Band begins world tour on December 24

  • 1911

    World tour is completed at the New York Hippodrome on December 10

  • 1913

    First performance of operetta The American Maid in Rochester, NY, on January 27

  • 1915

    Sousa Band performs at Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, CA, May-July

  • 1917

    Sousa enlists in the U.S. Navy at the age of 62 and forms the 300-piece "Jackie" Band at the Great Lakes Naval
    Training Center near Chicago. Discharged as a lieutenant commander

    Sousa in front of the Steel Pier
  • 1921

    Receives injury upon fall from his horse at Willow Grove, PA, on September 6

  • 1922

    Sousa Band tours Cuba

  • 1928

    Sousa celebrates golden jubilee as conductor; band begins Golden Jubilee Tour

  • 1929

    Sousa Band begins broadcasting on NBC on May 6

  • 1930

    Sousa travels to England to give performances of "The Royal Welch Fusiliers March," June-July

  • 1931

    Completes last published march, "The Circumnavigators Club," on October 29

  • 1932

    Rehearses with the Ringgold Band in Reading, PA, March 5; the final piece rehearsed is "The Stars and Stripes Forever" march
    Dies in Reading, PA, on March 6
    Buried in Congressional Cemetery, Washington, D.C., on March 10

 Back to top