Top of page

Manuscript/Mixed Material Library of Congress March

Image: First performance of the Library of Congress March First performance of the Library of Congress March, May 6, 2003.

"The Library of Congress March" was performed for the first time at the Library of Congress on May 6, 2003, at a special tribute to John W. Kluge, and in the presence of Sousa's grandson, John Philip Sousa IV. Based on manuscript sketches and orchestrations from the Library's John Philip Sousa Collection, this new work was reconstructed by Stephen Bulla, a leading American composer and arranger of concert band music, under the supervision of Sousa authority Loras John Schissel. It was the last work Sousa began and remained incomplete at the time of his death in 1932.

A native Washingtonian who was born on Capitol Hill in 1854, John Philip Sousa was the son of a musician in the Marine Band, was enlisted himself at the age of 13, and became the band's leader in 1880. His work, "The Stars and Stripes Forever," is one of America's best-known musical compositions, and was recognized officially by Congress as the National March of the United States of America in 1987.

Image: Loras John Schissel conducting the first performance of the Library of Congress MarchMaestro Loras John Schissel, conducting the first peformance of the Library of Congress March in the Great Hall.

Sousa's work with the Marine Band led to his long professional association with the Library of Congress, with his scholarly research in the extensive collections of the Library's Music Division for projects that included the transcription of Native American Indian tunes and the compilation and publication of his National, Patriotic and Typical Airs of All Lands. At the time of World War I, Sousa worked closely with Oscar Sonneck, then chief of the Library's Music Division, to establish a standardized version of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

In the spring of 2003, Loras Schissel, a Sousa authority and music specialist at the Library of Congress, contacted Steve Bulla to propose a reconstruction of Sousa's unfinished "Library of Congress March." The idea had already been discussed with and approved by the Sousa family. Using the Library's Sousa Collection of over 300 manuscripts, Bulla worked from two fragmentary sketches dated late 1931, a piano draft, and one page of a completed band score containing eight measures.

Bulla wrote of his process:

To maintain authenticity I immersed myself in a study of other Sousa scores from his late period. Loras provided helpful counsel and loaned me materials that included a copy of the full score (in manuscript) to "Pride of the Wolverines." I also took time to study "George Washington Bicentennial March," "The Northern Pines," and "The Aviators" (again the full score in manuscript). All of these marches had some similarity to the new march and provided guidance with following the Sousa stylistic hallmarks as I worked on my assignment.

The orchestration came easily and in some ways wrote itself. From my experience with the Marine Band (23 years to date) I was well acquainted with the sound and style of [Sousa's] music. This of course proved helpful as I chose voicings and created rhythmic counterpoint, necessary to properly score the march.

One particular hurdle was the brevity of the 'dog fight' section. The piano draft was too short here, and seemed undeveloped. Fortunately, one of the early fragment sketches had some melodic scribbles (nearly indecipherable) that turned out to match the places where the piano draft seemed incomplete. With this the 'dog fight' was filled out and the form came together nicely.

Learn More About It
Related Web Sites
Print Bibliography
  1. Berger, Kenneth W. The march king and his band: the story of John Philip Sousa. New York: Exposition Press, 1957. Call number: ML410 .S688 B4.
  2. Bierley, Paul E. John Philip Sousa, American phenomenon. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1973. Call number: ML410.S688 B5.
  3. Bierley, Paul E. The works of John Philip Sousa. Columbus, Ohio: Integrity Press, 1984. Call number: ML134.S6715 B6 1984.
  4. Newsom, Jon, ed. Perspectives on John Philip Sousa, with an introduction by Jon Newsom. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress/Government Printing Office, 1983. Call number: ML410 .S688 P47 1983.
  5. Sousa, John Philip. Marching along: recollections of men, women, and music. Edited by Paul E. Bierly. Westerville, Ohio: Integrity Press, 1994. Call number: ML410 .S688 A3 1994.

About this Item


  • Library of Congress March

Created / Published

  • Library of Congress, Washington, DC, 2002.


  • -  Popular Songs of the Day
  • -  Songs and Music
  • -  Songs Collections


  • article

Additional Metadata Formats

Rights & Access

Copyright and Restrictions

The Library of Congress is providing access to these materials for educational and research purposes and makes no warranty with regard to their use for other purposes. The written permission of the copyright owners and/or other rights holders (such as holders of publicity and/or privacy rights) is required for distribution, reproduction, or other use of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use or other statutory exemptions. There may be content that is protected as "works for hire" (copyright may be held by the party that commissioned the original work) and/or under the copyright or neighboring-rights laws of other nations.

Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item and securing any necessary permissions ultimately rests with persons desiring to use the item. Users should consult the bibliographic information that accompanies each item for specific information. This catalog data provides the details known to the Library of Congress regarding the corresponding items and may assist users in making independent assessments of the legal status of these items as related to their desired uses.

Items included here with the permission of the rights holders are indicated as such in the bibliographic record for each item.

Because of copyright laws, songs from the twentieth century may not be represented by very many items on the Web site. While every effort has been made to obtain permission to use these songs or portions of these songs, in some cases this has not been possible. Therefore there may be no recordings or paper items to illustrate those songs. In some instances, the rights' owner may have only granted permission to use a portion of the material online. In those cases, only 30-second excerpts of sound recordings are used, and only one or two pages of print or manuscript materials are used.

The use of U.S. Armed Forces sound recordings in no way indicates an endorsement of the Web site by any branch of the Armed Forces.

In some cases, the Library was unable to identify a possible rights holder and has elected to place some of those items online as an exercise of fair use for strictly non-commercial educational uses. The Library of Congress would like to learn more about these materials and would like to hear from individuals or institutions that have any additional information or know of their history. Please contact: Performing Arts Reading Room.

Suggested credit line: Library of Congress, Music Division

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Library of Congress March. Library of Congress, Washington, DC, 2002. Manuscript/Mixed Material.

APA citation style:

(2002) Library of Congress March. Library of Congress, Washington, DC. [Manuscript/Mixed Material] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Library of Congress March. Library of Congress, Washington, DC, 2002. Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.