Sousa, John Philip
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Sousa, John Philip(so͞o`zə, –sə), 1854–1932, American bandmaster and composer, b. Washington, D.C. He studied violin and harmony in his native city and learned band instruments as an apprentice to the U.S. Marine Band, in which his father played the trombone. Early in his career he conducted theater orchestras, and he played in Offenbach's orchestra in its American tour (1876–77). Sousa was leader of the U.S. Marine Band from 1880 until 1892, when he formed his own band. He toured the United States, Canada, Europe, and other parts of the world with great success. Sousa composed more than 100 marches, many of which became immensely popular, including "Semper fidelis" (1888), "The Washington Post March" (1889), "The Stars and Stripes Forever" (1897), and "Hands across the Sea" (1899). He also wrote several comic operettas, among them El Capitán (1896), The Bride Elect (1898), The Free Lance (1906), and The Glass Blowers (1913), and some orchestral music. In the development of the concert band he was the successor of Patrick S. Gilmore and did much to improve the instrumentation and quality of band music.
See his autobiography, Marching Along (1928); biographies by A. M. Lingg (1954), K. Berger (1957), and P. E. Bierley (1973).
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Sousa, John Philip(1854–1932) composer, bandmaster; born in Washington, D.C. He studied violin and trombone in childhood and at age 13 joined the U.S. Marine Band (1867–72). After some years of playing in popular orchestras, he returned in 1880 as director of the Marine Band. In 1892 he formed his own band and toured with it much of the rest of his life. His compositions include ten operettas, but he is known chiefly for his over 100 marches, which earned him the title "the March King"; they include classics such as "The Stars and Stripes Forever" and "The Washington Post." He also wrote three novels and an autobiography, Marching Along (1928).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.