Andrei Strizek

Music | Musings

Filtering by Tag: Easter Monday on the White House Lawn

Happy Birthday Sousa!

Happy 156th birthday to one of America's most famous musicians, John Philip Sousa! He made The President's Own into a world-class ensemble, and, with his own band, toured the country and brought fine music to thousands, if not millions. And of course, there's his namesake instrument.

"Grand opera is the most powerful of stage appeals and that almost entirely through the beauty of music."

In addition to being the March King, Sousa wrote ragtime pieces, several operettas, and many transcriptions, including Wagner's Overture to Tannhäuser:

It's so well-done that you don't miss the string section. (And the euphonium lick around 9:45 is pretty wicked!)

"There is much modern music that is better adapted to a wind combination than to a string, although for obvious reasons originally scored for an orchestra. If in such cases the interpretation is equal to the composition the balance of a wind combination is more satisfying."

If you're in the DC area, celebrate with The President's Own.

"An attempt to place a melody within geographical limits is bound to fail. Rhythmic qualities are imitated in all popular forms, but music, although it has many dialects, is, after all, a universal language. The waltz may have been German in the beginning but is certainly belongs to the world to-day."

If you're in the Champaign, Illinois, area, you can check out the massive Sousa Archives, housed in the Harding Band Building at the University of Illinois.

"Anybody can write music of a sort. But touching the public heart is quite another thing"

If nothing else, listen to a few of his pieces. (Or perhaps watch some Monty Python.)

"Believing then and - even more strongly now - that entertainment is of more real value to the world than technical education in music appreciation, I would not accept the symphonic orchestra as my medium."

And what birthday wish would be complete without Sousa's most famous piece?

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