Lieutenant Commander John Philip Sousa
November 6, 1854
March 6, 1932
Place of Birth:
Washington, District of Columbia
John Phillip Sousa with his contribution of march band music helped form the very fabric of American society.
Sousa came from a large family being the third of ten children born to John Antonio Sousa and Maria Elisabeth Trinkhaus.
His father was a trombonist in the US Marine Band and encouraged his son to follow a musical career.
When John Philip Sousa was only in primary school grades, he began successful vocal lessons and then moved to the violin where he again excelled.
He studied several instruments and at age 11, he was the leader of his own dance band consisting of seven male adults.
Sousa became a member of his father's Marine Band at the age of 13 and he left the band at age 21.
He continued during that time to play violin recitals and took further training on the violin under the tutelage of George Felix Benkert.
Sousa was becoming a very prominent musical figure around Washington and his talents predicted he would be an orchestra leader.
At age 25, John Philip Sousa was chosen to be the band master for his former group, the US Marine Band.
In the same year, 1879, he married Jane van Middlesworth Bellis whom he had met while working on a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta.
Sousa still had an intense interest in the musical theater and operettas.
Over his lifetime, he composed 15 operettas including "El Capitan" which was the first successful Broadway musical by an American composer.
In 1892, Sousa resigned from the Marine Band and formed the
Sousa New Marine Band.
He and his band made world tours where his marching music tunes, such as "The Stars and Stripes Forever" and "The Washington Post," became symbolic of American tradition.
The phonograph machine was introduced to the public by a special set of recordings by the Marine Band and by 1897 Sousa's music became amongst the first and most popular music ever recorded.
John Philip Sousa was by 1910 the author of hundreds of marches and his band had played around the world.
During the First World War, Sousa was asked to train young musicians from the Great Lakes Naval Training Center.
Sousa trained hundreds and formed bands for different Navy ships and he eventually received a rank of Lieutenant Commander.
John Phillip Sousa was an American institution having received honors and recognition all over the world with his dynamic marching music.
For detailed research and more information, check out the following:
Dallas Wind Symphony
A Capital Fourth
The Free Dictionary
The Spanish American War
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Last Updated: December 15, 2017
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