November 5, 2007 John Philip Sousa, "The March King," Subject of New Web Site
Press Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217
To commemorate the birthday of world-renowned bandleader and composer John Philip Sousa on Nov. 6, 1854, a new Web site dedicated to the composer of “The Stars and Stripes Forever” is now available from the Library of Congress at www.loc.gov/lcp. This presentation provides access to many music manuscripts from the John Philip Sousa Collection, which is housed in the Library’s Music Division. Also online are more than 450 pieces of printed music and historic recordings of the Sousa Band. The site includes a selection of photographs and the manuscript of “Pipetown Sandy,” Sousa’s semiautobiographical novel of a boy’s adventures in Civil War-era Washington, D.C. Copies of programs and press clippings from the band’s 1919-20 North American tour press books appear courtesy of the U.S. Marine Band Library. Although he is best known for his marches, Sousa composed a variety of music, including operettas, suites, fantasies, vocal works and dances. Born in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 6, 1854, Sousa enlisted in the U.S. Marine Band as an apprentice musician at the age of 13. After being discharged, he made his living as a violinist and conductor in various theater orchestras in Washington and Philadelphia. His renown as a composer, conductor and arranger grew, and in 1880 he was appointed leader of the U.S. Marine Band, known as “The President's Own,” a position he held until 1892. After leaving the Marine Band, he formed his own professional concert band, which employed some of the finest musicians of the day, including Herbert L. Clarke on cornet, Arthur Pryor on trombone and Maud Powell on violin. Known throughout the world as “The March King,” Sousa traveled with his band to entertain people around the country. He and his musicians traveled around the world as well, promoting American music everywhere they went. Sousa died after a rehearsal of the Ringgold Band in Reading, Pa., on March 6, 1932. He was buried at Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C. On Dec. 11, 1987, President Ronald Reagan signed a law designating Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever” as the national march of the United States. John Philip Sousa began donating his music manuscripts to the Music Division of the Library of Congress in 1914. Over the years, Sousa family members and others have presented additional Sousa-related materials to the Library. The John Philip Sousa Collection now contains approximately 10,000 items, including music and literary manuscripts, printed music, photographs and business records of the Sousa band. John Philip Sousa IV, the composer’s great-grandson, continues to enrich the collection with additional research materials.