John Philip Sousa

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John Philip Sousa

Fine Arts Musical-Online

1/30/2012

John Philip Sousa was an American composer and conductor of the late Romantic era. Sousa was born in Washington, D.C. on November 6, 1854, to John Antonio Sousa and Maria Elisabeth Trinkhaus. Born of both Portuguese and Bavarian ancestry. His father was Portuguese, and his mother of Bavarian ancestry. Sousa started his music education by playing the violin as a pupil of John Esputa and George Felix Benkert for harmony and musical composition at the age of six. At this time he also began studying voice, violin, piano, flute, cornet, baritone, trombone and alto horn. He was found to have absolute pitch. When Sousa reached the age of 13, his father, a trombonist in the Marine Band, enlisted his son in the United States Marine Corps as an apprentice in 1968 to keep him from joining a circus band. Sousa served in the U.S. Marine Corps, first from 1868 to 1875 as an apprentice musician, and then as the head of the Marine Band from 1880 to 1892. He was a Sergeant Major for most of his second period of Marine service and was a Warrant Officer at the time he resigned. During World War I, he was commissioned a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve and led the Navy Band at the Great Lakes Naval Station near Chicago, Illinois. Being independently wealthy, he donated his entire naval salary minus one dollar a year to the Sailors' and Marines' Relief Fund. After returning to his own band at the end of the war, he continued to wear his naval uniform for most of his concerts and other public appearances. From his childhood, he was determined, and industrious, and in command of such an unbounded optimism that nothing seemed impossible to him. Foremost in his mind was how best to please his audiences. Sousa organized his own band the year he left the Marine Band. The Sousa Band toured from 1892–1931, performing at 15,623 concerts. Sousa's band played at two Inaugural Balls, those of James A. Garfield in...
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