John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa (sōō´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).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

John Philip Sousa: Selected full-text books and articles

Popular American Composers from Revolutionary Times to the Present: A Biographical and Critical Guide By David H. Ewen; David H. Ewen H. W. Wilson, 1962
Librarian’s tip: "John Philip Sousa (1854-1932)" begins on p. 158
American Greats By Robert A. Wilson; Stanley Marcus PublicAffairs, 1999
Librarian’s tip: "Sousa's Band 'The Music Men'" begins on p. 218
Tin Pan Alley: A Chronicle of the American Popular Music Racket By Isaac Goldberg John Day, 1930
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Sousa, De Koven, and--Principally--Victor Herbert"
American Musical Theatre: A Chronicle By Gerald Bordman Oxford University Press, 1992 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of John Philip Sousa begins on p. 65
American Popular Music and Its Business: The First Four Hundred Years, from 1790-1909 By Russell Sanjek Oxford University Press, vol.2, 1988
Librarian’s tip: Includes discussion of John Philip Sousa in multiple chapters
Johann Strauss, Father and Son: A Century of Light Music By H. E. Jacob; Marguerite Wolff The Greystone Press, 1940
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of John Philip Sousa begins on p. 353
FREE! The Fifth String By John Philip Sousa Bowen-Merrill Company, 1902
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