Before television, movies, radio, or sound recordings, people either had to learn to play musical instruments or attend concerts to experience music. Wind bands provided the majority of concerts. In the golden age of American wind bands, none was as successful and well known as Sousa’s Band.
John Philip Sousa gained the experience and reputation needed to start a successful touring band as leader of the U.S. Marine Corps Band, America’s oldest professional musical ensemble. Before Sousa, it functioned as little more than Washington, DC’s town band. In his twelve years of service, Sousa transformed it to a nationally recognized band.
Under his leadership, the Marine Band started recording for the Columbia Record company. Sousa’s marches became some of the earliest hit records.
After years of trying, Sousa obtained permission to take it on tour. He hired David Blaikley, the former manager of the Gilmore Band, to organize the first tour throughout the Midwest. Its success encouraged a second tour that took the band as far as San Francisco. The success of that tour directly led to the end of Sousa’s leadership of the Marine Band and the formation of Sousa’s Band. Continue reading →
The United States Marine Band is the oldest professional musical organization in the country. John Philip Sousa, its most famous leader, elevated it from a town band in Washington D.C. to a national touring band.
In exploring Sousa’s accomplishments, it is necessary to describe the history of the Marine Band. As it turns out, the band would not have needed a leader of Sousa’s qualifications without the previous efforts of another remarkable musician, Francis Scala. Continue reading →
March music has played a huge role in American popular culture. What’s a parade without marching bands? Or half time at a school football game? Would anyone want to listen to a Fourth of July concert, or a concert on any other patriotic occasion, without lots of marches? Is it even possible to imagine a band concert without at least one march?
The modern wind band began at the time of the French Revolution. After that, European nations developed infantry bands and mounted cavalry bands. Some nations developed highly centralized policies for the instrumentation of these bands. In any case, the military bands influenced the development of all other bands except the British brass band tradition. Continue reading →