6 November marks the birthday of John Phillips Sousa in 1854. Sousa would gain world-wide acclaim for his mastery of march composition. Sousa’s father was of Portuguese and Spanish descent and his mother of Hessian ancestry. He was the third of ten children. His father enlisted him in the United States Marine Band as an apprentice in 1868. After departing the band in 1875, Sousa learned to conduct. From 1880 until his death, he focused exclusively on conducting and the writing of music. He eventually rejoined the Marine Band and served there for 12 years as director. Sousa led “The President’s Own” band under five presidents from Rutherford B. Hayes to Benjamin Harrison. Sousa’s band played at two Inaugural Balls, those of James A. Garfield in 1881, and Benjamin Harrison in 1889.
Please take a moment to enjoy this short video of one of Sousa’s most beloved marches….