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ClassicsOnline Home » SOUSA, J.P.: Music for Wind Band, Vol. 4 (Royal Artillery Band, Brion)
John Philip Sousa (1854-1932)
Works for Wind Band, Volume 4
John Philip Sousa personified turn-of-the-century America,
the comparative innocence and brash energy of a still new nation. His ever-touring
band represented America across the globe and brought music to hundreds of
American towns. John Philip Sousa, born on 6th November, 1854, reached this
exalted position with startling quickness. In 1880, at the age of 26, he became
conductor of the U.S. Marine Band. In twelve years the vastly improved ensemble
won high renown and Sousa’s compositions earned him the title of “The March
King.” Sousa went one better with the formation of his own band in 1892,
bringing world acclaim. In its first seven years the band gave 3500 concerts;
in an era of train and ship travel it logged over a million miles in nearly
four decades. There were European tours in 1900, 1901, 1903, and 1905, and a
world tour in 1910-11, the zenith of the band era.
The unprecedented popularity of the Sousa Band came at a
time when few American orchestras existed. From the Civil War to about 1920,
band concerts were the most important aspect of American musical life. No finer
band than Sousa’s was ever heard. Sousa modified the brass band by decreasing
the brass and percussion instruments, increasing its woodwinds, and adding a
harp. His conducting genius attracted the finest musicians, enabling him to
build an ensemble capable of executing programmes almost as varied as those of
a symphony orchestra. The Sousa Band became the standard by which American
bands were measured, causing a dramatic upgrading in quality nationally.
Sousa’s compositions also spread his fame. Such marches as
The Stars and Stripes Forever, El Capitan, Washington Post, and Semper Fidelis
are universally acknowledged as the best of the genre. Sousa said a march
“should make a man with a wooden leg step out”, and his surely did. Although he
standardised the march form as it is known today, he was no mere maker of
marches, but an exceptionally inventive composer of over two hundred works,
including symphonic poems, suites, operas and operettas. His principles of
instrumentation and tonal colour influenced many classical composers. His
robust, patriotic operettas of the 1890s helped introduce a truly native
musical attitude in American theatre.
The library of Sousa’s Band contained over 10,000 titles.
Among them are the band compositions of Sousa including the 136 marches and
numerous other scores. This new series, Sousa: Music for Wind Band, seeks to
record them for the world to hear.
 Nobles of
the Mystic Shrine (1922)
Sousa composed the incredibly colourful march Nobles of the
Mystic Shrine to commemorate his admission to the Shrine in Washington DC. He
conducted the première with an enormous band of 6200 Shriners in Washington’s
Griffith’s baseball stadium.
Sesqui-Centennial Exposition (1926)
Composed for an exposition in Philadelphia celebrating the
150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the
Sesqui-Centennial Exposition march is also particularly appropriate for the
celebration of Sousa’s own sesqui-centennial of his birth in 1854. It features
a chime solo evocative of the Liberty Bell.
[3 – 5] Tales
of a Traveler (1911)
The suite Tales of a Traveler commemorates aspects of the
Sousa Band’s landmark 1911 tour around the world. The first movement, The
Kaffir on the Karroo is descriptive of native dances of the Karroo in South
Africa. The second, In the Land of the Golden Fleece, a romantic waltz, was
dedicated “To the Matrons and Maids of Australia”. The final movement
Coronation March was intended to be used at the coronation of King George V,
but it was never performed for that purpose, causing Sousa to change the title
to Grand Promenade at the White House. In 1928 he composed an entirely new
substitute for this movement called Easter Monday on the White House Lawn.
Riders for the Flag (1927)
A sturdy, jaunty calvary march, Riders for the Flag was composed
for the Fourth U.S. Cavalry and bears unmistakable signs of its equine and
 Ancient and
Honorable Artillery Co. (1924)
The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Co. of Boston is the
oldest military organization in the United States. Sousa composed his march at
their request and included their marching song Auld Lang Syne. It was formally
presented to them at a concert in Symphony Hall Boston in September 1924.
 Coeds of
The lilting and romantic waltz Coeds of Michigan was
dedicated “To the Faculty and Students of the University of Michigan”.
of Panama (1915)
Pathfinder of Panama was composed for the Sousa Band’s long
residency at the San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition in the summer of 1915.
The Sousa Band appeared alongside an all-star symphony orchestra conducted by
 The Glory
of the Yankee Navy (1909)
One of Sousa’s finest marches, The Glory of the Yankee Navy
is based on material first taken from a musical comedy The Yankee Girl, and
later evolved into the martial version heard today.
Elect Selections (1898)
The Bride Elect is a Sousa operetta that was first staged in
1897. The story is a typically goofy tale of two farcical kingdoms which become
involved over the shooting of the king’s goat. As a proper reparation for the
offence, a peace commission finally decides on the King’s marriage to the
princess of the offending country, thus making the opposing princess the bride
elect. From this highly charming music, Sousa extracted one of his finest and
most delightful operetta selections. It concludes with a setting of his popular
Bride Elect March.
 The Aviators (1931)
The march The Aviators is dedicated to William J. Moffett,
the man responsible for Sousa’s commission in the American Navy during World
War I. Moffett was later to become a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy’s Bureau of
Aeronautics and is credited as the father of the aircraft carrier. It is
thought that the Sousa Band featured the sounds of an aeroplane engine when
performing this march.
 The Stars and Stripes Forever (1896)
With the possible exception of The Star Spangled Banner, no
musical composition has done more to arouse the patriotic spirit of America
than The Stars and Stripes Forever, John Philip Sousa’s most beloved
composition. It is the official national march of the United States. Symbolic
of flag-waving in general, it has been used with considerable effectiveness to
generate patriotic feeling ever since its introduction in Philadelphia on 14th
May, 1897, when the staid Public Ledger reported: “. . .It is stirring enough
to rouse the American eagle from his crag, and set him to shriek exultantly
while he hurls his arrows at the aurora borealis”. The Stars and Stripes
Forever had found its place in history. There was a vigorous response wherever
it was performed, and audiences began to rise as though it were the national
anthem. This became traditional at Sousa Band concerts. It was his practice to
have the cornets, trumpets, trombones, and piccolos line up at the front of the
stage for the final trio, and this added to the excitement. Many bands still
By almost any musical standard, The Stars and Stripes
Forever is a masterpiece, even without its patriotic significance, but by
virtue of that patriotic significance it is by far the most popular march ever
written, and its popularity is by no means limited to the United States.
Abroad, it has always symbolized America.
The Royal Artillery Band
The Royal Artilllery Band had their ‘drum and fife’ as long
ago as 1557, but it was the need for a ‘band of musik’ in the regiment that led
to the formation of the Royal Artillery Band in 1762. Since 1764, the band has
been quartered with the Royal Artillery Regiment in Woolwich, in South-east
London. Today the band employs over fifty musicians who, in keeping with
tradition, must be accomplished on both orchestral and wind band instruments.
The band may appear on one day as a symphonic wind band (one of the largest in the
British army), the next as a marching unit, and at another time as a full
symphony orchestra (England’s oldest established symphony orchestra). The
current Director of Music is Major Stephen Smith, and the Bandmaster is Warrant
Officer Russell Gray.
Keith Brion, Music Director of his own New Sousa Band, has
appeared as a frequent guest conductor with nearly all of America’s major
symphony orchestras and professional bands. His New Sousa Band, established in
1986, is a realisation of his dream to re-create the Sousa Band and once again
tour America’s towns and cities.
He has toured extensively in the East, Middle West and the Southeastern
United States with the New Sousa Band, which had its first overseas tour to
Japan in August 1996. For Naxos Keith Brion has undertaken a series of
recordings of works by Sousa, and has also recorded collections of music by
Percy Grainger, Victor Herbert and Alan Hovhaness. He maintains an active
career as an orchestra conductor, presenting his popular Sousa revival concerts
with orchestras such as the Boston Pops, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the St.
Louis, Dallas, Houston, Utah, Minnesota and Milwaukee symphonies. His overseas
orchestral engagements have included appearances with the London Concert Orchestra,
New Zealand Symphony, and the Gothenburg Symphony. Keith Brion is a former
Director of Bands at Yale University, where he led the Yale Band in concerts at
the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, and in an all-Ives programme at Amsterdam’s
Concertgebouw. Before moving to Yale, he was the founder and music director of
the North Jersey Wind Symphony and a long-time band educator and music
supervisor in the New Jersey public schools. He has published thirty editions
for band, including the music of Charles Ives, Percy Grainger, John Philip
Sousa and D.W. Reeves, and is the author of numerous articles.
Programme notes by Keith Brion are freely based on material
taken from The Works of John Philip Sousa, Integrity Press,
with the express permission of the author, Paul E. Bierley.
The introduction is extracted from Roger Ruggeri’s
programme notes for the Milwaukee Symphony.
Special thanks for their assistance in preparing this
recording to: Loras Schissel, Sousa Collection, Library of Congress,
John Sousa IV, Pres., John Philip Sousa Inc., Paul E.
Bierley, Sousa’s biographer, The United States Marine Band,
and The Sousa Collection at the University of Illinois
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