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The King of Marches

I know little children love to hear marching music and can really get into some lively marching. There are also people who love this kind of music so that they can enjoy the sounds of all the instruments used especially the rapping of drums. John Philip Sousa wasn’t the first to create the march music genre but he did compose many marches all with a special style of his own. His pieces are instantly recognized when played like “The Washington Post” (1889), “The Liberty Bell” (1893), and “Stars And Stripes Forever” (1896). John Philip Sousa was referred to as “The March King”.

He was born in Washington, D.C. the capital of the U.S. on November 6, 1854. He must have been influenced by this father who was a United States Marine Band trombonist. His musical education began at the age of six. He was raised in the nation’s capital during the Civil War so he often got to hear marches being played as small bands accompanied soldiers heading into battle.

After the war, Sousa did an apprenticeship in the Marine Band. He became the band’s Director in 1880 and in the late 1880s he started to make a name for himself as the conductor of America’s oldest professional musical organization and as a composer of the patriotic style of music. Sousa is remembered for his 136 marches but altogether composed 300 musical compositions. Even though the Sousa Band played more than they marched it did make John Philip Sousa a very rich and famous man.

  • Have you heard of John Philip Sousa?

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  • Do you like listening to marches?

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      • He wrote six “Pomp and Circumstance” marches, of which the first is best known. It has been set to the words “Land of Hope and Glory” that is played at every “Last Night of the Proms” at the Royal Albert Hall.

        Apart from always preferring English to American music, I would have to say that Elgar was a “proper” composer, who wrote symphonies, concertos and much more besides, as opposed to Sousa.

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