John Philip Sousa in his Sousa Band uniform, ca. 1912

John Philip Sousa in his Sousa Band uniform, ca. 1912

John Philip Sousa


Between 1893 and 1932, John Philip Sousa was the most commercially successful bandleader in the United States and one of the best-known American entertainers worldwide. The son of Portuguese and Bavarian immigrants, from 1880 to 1892 Sousa served as leader of the United States Marine Band, “The President’s Own,” in Washington, D.C.


Between 1893 and 1932, John Philip Sousa (born November 6, 1854 in Washington, D.C.; died March 6, 1932 in Reading, Pennsylvania) was the most commercially successful bandleader in the United States and one of the best-known American entertainers worldwide. The son of Portuguese and Bavarian immigrants, from 1880 to 1892 Sousa served as leader of the United States Marine Band, “The President’s Own,” in Washington, D.C. With an eye on performing at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Sousa formed his own commercial band under the guidance of manager David Blakely. Over the course of the next forty years, the Sousa Band made more than 15,000 appearances. These performances were almost exclusively concerts—the band is known to have marched on only eight occasions—that took place primarily on tours across the United States, at summer residencies, and at various fairs and expositions. In 1900, 1901, 1903, and 1905, the band undertook tours of Europe, and in 1911 it became the first large American ensemble to complete a world tour. Sousa was also a prolific composer, writing music for the professional stage and for amateurs’ parlors. He is best known, however, for his marches, such as “The Washington Post” (1889) and “The Stars and Stripes Forever” (1896). By the 1890s, Sousa’s publisher was advertising him as “the March King,” a title that reflected both his success as a composer and his onstage persona. As the March King, Sousa sought to present American audiences with an idealized entertainer who reinforced early twentieth-century notions of self-made entrepreneurship, masculine achievement, and a distinctly American cultural ambition. As a commercial entertainer in a land of immigrants, Sousa used his own family story to connect with audiences; but as a musician who toured to virtually every corner of the nation, he downplayed the specifics of any particular cultural identity other than that of the well-assimilated American entrepreneur.

Family Background

There is no truth to the rumor that John Philip Sousa was born in Germany as Sigismund Ochs and immigrated to the United States with luggage bearing his initials and destination: “S. O., U.S.A.” This popular story, which continues to be heard even today, was the work of Sousa’s most ambitious press agent, George Frederick Hinton. Never one to let a good gimmick go to waste, Hinton varied his tale as the Sousa Band made its way across America and around the globe. During the ensemble’s travels he created musicians with names such as S. Oulette, Sam Ogden, and Siegfried Ochs. Hinton’s goal was twofold. For critics and culturally ambitious audiences, these names could evoke the heightened musical pedigree of Europe, while for more everyday listeners they could serve as a gentle reminder that despite his royal designation, the March King remained one of them: the hard-working child of harder-working immigrants. Along the way, Sousa simultaneously became both musical genius and local son. In his 1928 autobiography the conductor admitted that Hinton’s story was simply a “polite fiction,” albeit one that proved to be among “the best bits of advertising I have had in my long career.”[1]

Such polite fictions have created a minefield for the March King’s biographers. Like many famous entertainers, Sousa remolded his own life story in light of his later professional needs. As his fame reached its height between the Spanish-American War and World War I, he often worked to downplay the specifics of his parents’ immigrant experience and instead present himself as an American everyman, an entertainer who reflected back to his audiences their own deeply-held values, economic ambitions, and cultural assumptions. Sousa thus has two very different biographies: one supported by the historical evidence, and one crafted to captivate an audience. Understanding Sousa—the dual entertainer and entrepreneur—requires understanding both historical truth and polite fictions.

Sousa’s paternal grandparents likely left Portugal for Seville, Spain, sometime during the Liberal Revolution of 1820. His father, John Antonio, was born soon thereafter, probably in late September 1824. The adult Sousa readily admitted that his father “never let us know—and if he told Mother, she kept her own counsel—just what his standing was in the Old World.”[2] This lack of knowledge allowed Sousa to imagine himself part of an “illustrious line of ancestral Sousas,” and he was always happy to draw an abundance of familial connections before an eager press, making links to the sixteenth-century governor of Goa, Martim Afonso de Sousa, to a governor-general of Brazil, Thomé de Sousa, and to the seventeenth-century historian Manuel de Faria e Sousa.[3] John Philip even suggested that his own given name derived from Portuguese history because prior to that country’s renewed independence in 1640, a Sousa serving as chief justice delivered opinions in the name of King Philip of Spain. The same jurist abandoned Philip after independence in favor of the new King John. The March King thus claimed that his name was taken from two early seventeenth-century monarchs of his father’s ancestral homeland.[4]

Antonio Sousa’s pathway to the New World was a meandering one, and he likely spent time in Italy before crossing the Atlantic as a translator for the British navy. He may have seen military service in Brazil, and perhaps during the Mexican-American War, before finally settling in New York City in the 1840s, where he made a living as a trombonist. There he met Marie Elisabeth Trinkaus, who was born on May 20, 1826 in the village of Fränkisch-Crumbach, then part of the grand duchy of Hesse. Trinkaus immigrated to the United States in August of 1849 and married Antonio Sousa soon thereafter. Their first child, Catherine Margaret, arrived on December 6, 1850, and a second daughter, Josephine, was born in late 1852.

The small family moved from New York to Washington, D.C., in March of 1854 when Antonio enlisted in the United States Marine Band. A Catholic, he attended St. Peter’s Church near his home on Capitol Hill. Antonio seems to have had little interest in celebrating his heritage, and his son later claimed that his father “came from Seville, and was born in America some twenty-five years later.”[5] The same cannot be said of Sousa’s Bavarian mother, who sought out a more familiar community. In the 1850s about 20 percent of Washington’s free residents identified themselves as foreign-born. Numbering about seven thousand, Irish immigrants constituted the city’s largest European ethnic group, while people from the German-speaking states contributed about half that number. Many of these immigrants—both Irish and German—settled near the confluence of the Potomac River and Rock Creek in a neighborhood then known as Funkstown (now Foggy Bottom). The area took its name from Jacob Funk, who in 1765 had tried to establish a port, called Hamburgh, capable of competing with the nearby centers of Georgetown and Alexandria. Although his commercial endeavors failed, Funk’s neighborhood survived to become one of the city’s oldest settlements. Among Funk’s first acts was the establishment of a church at the corner of what would later become 20th and G Streets (Northwest). A new building was constructed in 1833, and it was there that Elizabeth Sousa found a German-speaking congregatio, at the Concordia German Evangelical Church (now the Concordia United Church of Christ).

The month of November 1854 saw both the death of the Sousas’ second daughter, Josephine, and the birth of their first son, John Philip, who was baptized on November 26 at his mother’s church by the Reverend Samuel D. Finckel. Several additional children joined the family over the next few years: Rosina (1858–60), George Williams (1859–1913), Annie Francis (1863–65), Mary Elisabeth (1865–1940), Antonio Augustus (1868–1918), and Louis Marion (1870–1929). Sousa later declared “My parents were absolutely opposed to race suicide and were the authors of a family of ten children,” six of whom survived to adulthood. As the family grew, the Sousas shifted to attending services at Christ Episcopal Church, a congregation much closer to their home in southeast Washington.[6]

Sousa remembered his childhood fondly, and always wrote warmly of his parents. According to the adult Sousa, Antonio was a “quiet father” and “one of the best-informed men I have ever met.” Together, father and son explored the capital of Sousa’s youth, and the mature March King happily recalled that “I was not only his son but his companion, and whenever there was a hunting trip or a fishing expedition or any other pleasure, I was always with him.”[7] Sousa described his mother as a “wonderful, fearless woman whose simple faith in goodness was eternally strong.” It was to her, Sousa explained, that “I owe my faith in mankind.”[8] Sousa rarely commented on his parents’ ethnicity, although he did poke fun at his father by noting that “like all Portuguese, he liked to take a siesta after his luncheon hour.” His Bavarian mother, who was “charged with ambition and energy,” would routinely disapprove, to which Antonio could only reply “Elise, the night is for sleep, and the day is for rest.”[9] Even in language, the Sousa family seems to have been thoroughly assimilated, as Antonio taught his wife the local language by having her compare “her German Bible and his English one.”[10]

Despite a pleasantly remembered childhood, Sousa does not seem to have remained particularly close to his family. He was on tour in Duluth when his father died in April of 1892, and claims to have received a telegram from one of his brothers: “Father died this morning. Mother insists you continue your concerts and not disappoint the public. Will have funeral postponed until your return.”[11] Sousa did visit his widowed mother, but there is little evidence to suggest that he supported her financially prior to her own death in August of 1908.[12] His busy career also seems to have prevented Sousa from becoming close to any of his siblings, and in his autobiography he mentions only Catherine, who helped to raise him.

Business Development

Sousa’s career can be conveniently divided into three parts. On June 9, 1868, at the age of thirteen, he enlisted in the United States Marine Band to learn the trade of his father. The ensemble ran a musical apprenticeship program designed to train young men in field music (the system of drummers, fifers, and buglers who once sounded military signals both in camp and during battle). Some Marine Band apprentices distinguished themselves enough to join the concert ensemble, and on July 8, 1872, Sousa enlisted in the Marine Band as a regular member. Concurrent with this military service, he played the violin in several Washington playhouses, including Ford’s Opera House and Kernan’s Theatre Comique.[13] In 1876 Sousa moved to Philadelphia, first to work as a violinist on the centennial fairgrounds, and later to prove himself as an arranger of theater music. The 1870s can thus be thought of as an apprenticeship and early professional period. During this decade Sousa learned the skills necessary to make a life as a musician, and his published output was dominated by light works for the home parlor and arrangements of theater music, especially the operettas of Arthur Sullivan and W. S. Gilbert.

In early 1879, while serving as arranger and conductor for an amateur production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore, Sousa met Jane van Middlesworth Bellis, a sixteen-year-old carpenter’s daughter who was serving as the understudy for the part of Hebe. Less than a year later, on December 30, she became Mrs. John Philip Sousa. It is unclear just how large a role Sousa’s wife played in his career; the former Miss Bellis seems to have muted her own ambitions in favor of her husband’s: “Mrs. Sousa realized that my life work was to be music, that music was an exacting mistress and that domestic affairs would have to be subordinated to the musical demands of the moment.”[14] The Sousas would have three children: John Philip, Jr. (1881–1937) Jane Priscilla (1882–1958), andHelen (1887–1975).

His musical education complete, Sousa was offered his first long-term employment in 1880. On October 1, he returned to Washington and reenlisted to become the youngest leader and first American-born conductor of the United States Marine Band (an ensemble then dominated by Italian and German musicians). Shortly after Sousa rejoined the group, the commandant complained “the band gives me more trouble than all the rest of the corps put together.”[15] This trouble was due in large part to an inequitable payment system and a lack of satisfying musical engagements; Sousa would work tirelessly to address both of these problems. His tenure as leader would also be distinguished by both an increase in the ensemble’s size and an improvement in the overall quality of its players. Finally, it was during this period that Sousa refocused his energies as a composer and began to write the more distinctly military music for which he is now famous, including the first of his marches to enter the permanent repertoire: “The Gladiator” (1886), “Semper Fidelis” (1888), and “The Washington Post” (1889).

Through these compositions, which were published in versions for band, theater orchestra, piano, and various parlor ensembles, Sousa’s name began to spread beyond Washington. In 1891 he came to the attention of David Blakely, a former publisher and government official from Minnesota. As the one-time proprietor of St. Paul’s Pioneer Press, Minneapolis’s Tribune, and Chicago’s Evening Post, as well as the founder of a successful Chicago printing company, Blakely had already proven that he had the promotional skills needed to organize large-scale public events. His interest in music had spurred him to establish the Minneapolis Philharmonic Society, and in 1883 he served as the local manager for a visit by Theodore Thomas, the era’s most important American conductor of classical music. In the wake of these successes, this politician/printer/impresario established an office in New York from which he could oversee his growing interests as a concert manager. By 1891, Blakely was looking for a new attraction, and he requested permission from the secretary of the navy to take Sousa and the Marine Band on a tour of the eastern United States.

The modern Marine Band presents free concerts in annually rotating geographic regions, but this first Marine Band tour was a commercial enterprise; every bandsman was granted military leave and then personally contracted to, and paid by, David Blakely. For the four weeks between April 1 and May 3, 1891, Sousa and Blakely presented the band to audiences in the Northeast and Midwest. Sousa’s salary was about $1,500 per year as leader of the Marine Band (approximately $37,000 in 2010 U.S. dollars), but he walked away from this first tour with $2,635 (approximately $65,000 in 2010 U.S. dollars); in just one month, he had made nearly twice his annual military income. Both men naturally wished to capitalize on this success, and so they took the band out on tour again in 1892. Over the course of seven weeks in March, April, and May, the ensemble travelled from Washington to San Francisco and back. Sousa earned $8,250 (approximately $204,000 in 2010 U.S. dollars), five times his annual military salary.

The press from both of these tours was mixed. In many small towns the band played to large crowds and received glowing reviews, while in bigger cities, more accustomed to professionalized entertainment, the reception was somewhat colder.[16] Nonetheless, the next phase of Sousa’s career was obvious to both the bandleader and his manager: Sousa’s last concert with the Marine Band occurred on July 30, 1892, and under Blakely’s guidance he formed his own private, commercial ensemble. The contract Sousa signed provided him with an annual salary of $6,000 (or $148,000 in 2010 U.S. dollars)—four times what he earned as a marine—plus ten percent of the profits during the band’s first year and twenty percent per year after that. As they began their enterprise, both Sousa and Blakely assumed that this new band would be forced to compete with an ensemble very similar to their own (and one that David Blakely had recently managed): that of the most famous American bandmaster, Patrick Gilmore. To Sousa’s good fortune, just two days before his ensemble’s very first concert (which took place in Plainfield, New Jersey on September 26, 1892), Gilmore died suddenly while engaged at the St. Louis Exposition performance hall. Gilmore’s unexpected exit from the concert stage not only removed Sousa’s most powerful competition; it also freed up a number of star players. Blakely worked quickly to take advantage of the situation. By the time the Sousa Band settled in Chicago in 1893 for a six-week stay at the World’s Columbian Exposition, the ensemble could boast a dozen of Gilmore’s most famous musicians among its members.

Gilmore’s death also meant that his lucrative engagements were now available for the taking. Upon leaving Chicago, the Sousa Band made its way to Coney Island where it supplanted Gilmore’s ensemble as the featured entertainment at the Manhattan Beach hotel in July and August. It then went on to replace Gilmore at the St. Louis Exposition for September and October of 1893. The Musical Courier called the resulting schedule “the longest continuous tour ever undertaken by a musical organization in this country,” while the press generally recognized Sousa as Gilmore’s rightful heir on the American stage.[17] According to one reporter, Sousa’s ensemble, with its star players, skillful conductor, and experienced management, now stood “as the best organization of its kind on this continent” and it was clear that “no other leader could so well fill the place of Gilmore as does Mr. Sousa.”[18]

During his time as leader of the Marine Band, Sousa had often sold new compositions to his publishers outright for as little as thirty-five dollars (approx. $865 in 2010). The Blakely-Sousa contract, however, gave the manager an interest in the bandleader’s new compositions (as well as ownership of Sousa’s valuable music library). Seeing the worth of Sousa’s music, it is hardly surprising that Blakely worked to increase this profit stream through royalty payments. The 1893 march “The Liberty Bell” reportedly earned some $40,000 in royalties over the course of Sousa’s career.[19]

Now working full steam at his dual career as a composer and conductor, Sousa closed the 1894 season with more than 650 performances under his belt. Blakely found the venture so satisfying that in May of 1895 he wrote to his bandmaster and informally amended their contract. No longer would Sousa be entitled to just twenty percent of the profits; now the two men would “share alike in all the revenues which are derived from the enterprise which we undertook together,” an enterprise that Blakely had found a most “unexpected and gratifying success.”[20] Just as it had each summer, the band spent July 1896 at Manhattan Beach, and Sousa and his wife then traveled to Europe for a much-needed vacation. The couple’s travels were cut short by tragedy, however. On the afternoon of November 7, David Blakely’s secretary returned to the office and found the manager dead at the age of sixty-two.

To this point, Sousa’s role in his own success had been limited to his artistic skills: as leader of the Marine Band, he had been shielded from business concerns by his guaranteed government income, and Blakely had handled the day-to-day operations of Sousa’s civilian ensemble. With his manager’s death, however, Sousa’s inexperience in the world of business was suddenly on full display. The bandleader felt certain that just as he had brought unique artistic skills to the enterprise, Blakely’s managerial abilities were irreplaceable. After Blakely’s death, therefore, Sousa unilaterally dissolved the contract that had bound the two men together. Blakely’s widow, meanwhile, filed suit against the bandleader in a Pennsylvania court. As their disagreement intensified, Ada Blakely decided to demand the literal terms of the original contract: in addition to compensation for the damage Sousa had caused by failing to perform under her management, she asked that the bandleader turn over fifty percent of his royalty earnings, the band’s entire music library, and the advertising control of his own name.

The case landed with a legal referee, who to a large degree sided with Sousa. Just as the March King’s conducting skills could not be transferred to his next of kin, neither could Blakely’s “business qualities, ability and reputation.”[21] It was thus clear that Ada Blakely could not expect Sousa to perform under her management. Sousa did not win outright, however. The original contract gave David Blakely an interest in Sousa’s compositions, and this property right was not dependent on the manager’s skills. As a result, the referee required Sousa to turn over to Ada Blakely half the profits from all the works he had composed prior to her husband’s death. Furthermore, Blakely’s heirs were entitled to the Sousa Band library, which the contract had made David Blakely’s personal property. Neither side was particularly happy with this outcome, and the case was appealed to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania; it upheld the referee’s findings in an October 1900 decision.

This experience was not trivial to Sousa’s career. In the seven years between leaving the Marine Band and the final court decision, Sousa achieved remarkable success, a great deal of which depended on his reputation as a skilled businessman. In an age when masters of industry could be elevated as cultural heroes and massive fairs demonstrated America’s managerial promise, no small part of Sousa’s success was rooted in the public’s perception of him as an entrepreneur. In 1899, for example, a Detroit journalist praised Sousa the executive: “To be able to command men is a gift possessed by comparatively few, and the great general is no more difficult to discover than the great conductor. The strict discipline that promotes a wholesome respect for the commander is as necessary in maintaining the standard of a musical organization as it is in promoting the efficiency of a fighting body. Not the least enjoyable thing about a Sousa band concert is the masterly control of the leader over the human instrumentality before him.”[22]

Sousa was happy to fuel such images of absolute control: “That is what I am constantly trying to do all the time,” he explained in his memoir, “to make my musicians and myself a one-man band! Only, instead of having actual metallic wires to work the instruments I strike after magnetic ones. I have to work so that I feel every one of my eighty-four musicians is linked up with me by a cable of magnetism. Every man must be as intent upon and as sensitive to every movement of my baton as I am myself.”[23] In some cases the bandleader directly connected his success to the world of business: “The organizing and maintaining of a superior band I regard in the light of a calm, calculative, business proposition, as much as the selection training of men for banking or other commercial duties… As the head of a counting-house exercises powers of selection in gathering about him a staff as nearly perfect as possible, so is the bandmaster untiring in his search for the best available talent… The principle of the survival of the fittest is strong.”[24]

Sousa’s entrepreneurial talents were called into question by the Blakely lawsuit. A Wilkes-Barre reporter wondered how the bandmaster could have been foolish enough to give up so much in his original contract, which the paper deemed a “gigantic swindle” that “had practically given the Blakeley [sic] people something like an independent fortune.”[25] Considering his increased royalties and improved salary, there is no question that Sousa was in far better hands with David Blakely than he had been as a Marine. Nevertheless, he had forfeited considerable autonomy with his contract and probably had not thought carefully before signing it. The legal referee had even noted that the agreement “evidently was not written by a lawyer, but by a layman.”[26] Furthermore, Sousa had never sought to make Blakely’s 1895 alteration of the contract official, greatly weakening his position. After this painful and embarrassing lawsuit, Sousa would never again be so cavalier when it came to business. While he would continue to employ concert managers and a publicity machine, he would now be an active agent in the control of his name and work.

Given his speedy rise to fame in America it is no surprise that Sousa was eager to present his band to foreign audiences. Tentative plans were made to undertake a tour of Europe in the late 1890s, but the prevailing anti-American sentiment during the Spanish-American War stalled these efforts. The end of the conflict revived Sousa’s plans, and in April of 1900 the band set sail for the Paris Exposition and concerts across Europe (including several German appearances in June, July, and August). The next few years saw a whirlwind of activity. As a general rule, the band toured during the fall, winter, and spring, often playing two concerts in two different cities each day. During the summer months they would settle in for residencies at fairs and expositions where they might present three or four shorter concerts each day. The most important of these residences began in 1901 when the band arrived at Willow Grove Park outside of Philadelphia. They would appear here annually, performing nearly 3,000 concerts before the end of 1926. In late September 1901 Sousa set sail again, this time for a tour of Great Britain. The year 1902 was the band’s busiest, with 730 concerts and not a single month of inactivity. Another international tour was arranged for 1903, this time stretching as far east as Russia (German concerts occurred in May and June). Another tour of Great Britain was conducted in 1905. Riding this wave of international fame, Sousa and his band sailed from New York on December 24, 1910 for a world tour that would last a full year and enable them to play before English-speaking audiences in Great Britain, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii.[27] Sousa seems to have thrived on all of this activity, and somehow he found time to compose several original operettas between 1890 and 1910: El Capitan (1895),The Bride-Elect (1897), The Charlatan (1898), Chris and the Wonderful Lamp (1899), and The American Maid (1909). He also managed to work on his literary endeavors and had considerable success with his first novel, The Fifth String (1902), and with the semiautobiographical Pipetown Sandy (1905).

The decade between 1910 and 1920 remained remarkably busy. Sousa published a musical almanac, Through the Year with Sousa (1910) and a third novel, The Transit of Venus (1920). A six-month tour in 1915 included lengthy engagements at the Panama-Pacific Exposition, Willow Grove, and the Pittsburgh Exposition. The band settled into New York on September 30 to perform at the Hippodrome in the extravaganza Hip! Hip! Hooray! and remained there for thirty weeks before taking the production on tour through mid-March 1917. On May 31, with the outbreak of war, the sixty-two-year-old Sousa returned to the military and joined the United States Navy. Commissioned as a lieutenant and receiving a self-imposed salary of just $1 per month, Sousa reported to the Great Lakes Naval Training Station where he organized bands, aided in recruiting, and took part in brief Liberty Loan tours. Shortly after being relieved from active duty in 1919, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-commander.

Sousa had scaled back his private band’s activities during the war, and it was impossible to return to touring as usual. Many of the most experienced players had moved on to other work, and in 1920 a series of poorly planned rail connections and hotel arrangements prompted thirty-eight of Sousa’s musicians to go on strike. The infuriated conductor dismissed many of his players, including several longtime soloists. Matters were made worse when Sousa was thrown while horseback riding in September 1921. The resulting cracked vertebrae severely limited his range of motion on the podium, and he was quickly becoming a relic of nineteenth-century entertainment. The Willow Grove engagements were dropped in 1926, and even before the crash of 1929, tours were dramatically curtailed: the band traveled for only thirty-four days in 1930 and a mere eleven in 1931. By the late 1920s Sousa’s active composing career was also slowing down, but more and more he became a spokesperson for American band music. In 1927 and 1928 he appeared before Congress to encourage the commissioning of military bandmasters, in 1930 and 1931 he conducted at the National High School Orchestra Camp at Interlochen, and in 1930 he was named honorary life president of the newly formed American Bandmasters Association.

After forty years as America’s most successful bandmaster, the end came for John Philip Sousa in 1932. After rehearsing the Ringgold Band of Reading, Pennsylvania, Sousa attended a dinner in his honor and then returned to his room at the Abraham Lincoln Hotel. Sometime in the early morning of March 6, he suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of seventy-seven. The last piece to be heard under the March King’s baton was, fittingly, “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”

Marketing Sousa

To understand Sousa’s career as an entrepreneur, it is first necessary to understand the threefold product he was selling. As the leader of a commercial touring band he relied on ticket sales to pay his players and turn a profit, while as a composer he relied on the sale of printed music to keep his name before the public. His 130 marches, along with a host of songs, dances, and descriptive pieces, were sold in parts for performances by both bands and theater orchestras, but also in piano reductions for rendition in the home parlor. These two distinct products, tickets and sheet music, were of course symbiotic. An amateur musician might purchase a march to play at home and thus be tempted to attend a Sousa concert and hear the piece conducted by the composer himself. Conversely, an audience member might leave a concert whistling a new Sousa march and decide to purchase it in an effort to entertain friends and family at home. Both paths placed money in Sousa’s pocket, either through the purchase of tickets or the sale of sheet music.

There was, however, a third product offered by John Philip Sousa. During his early years as a professional musician he had trained in the pits of Washington’s playhouses. As a young man in Philadelphia he had led a company in the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan. Even during his mature career as leader of the Marine Band and later of his own ensemble, Sousa continued to write music for the stage, including several operettas. In short, Sousa was fundamentally a theatrical musician. While his mature career may have steered him away from the theater itself, his inclination toward drama was made manifest in his public persona. The Sousa who appeared before American audiences was not the Sousa who grew up in Washington, D.C.; rather he was a theatrical character carefully constructed through what he might have called “polite fictions.” In the mid-1890s one of Sousa’s artistic contemporaries, the actor Otis Skinner, wrote of the March King: “Watch him in his exquisite art of dress, his make-up, his fascinating stage manner, his abandon to the character of the music his band plays and his magnetic capture of his audience. Of course, his band is the greatest on earth and that has something to do with it, but Sousa is the best actor America ever produced.”[28] Just one example, Sousa’s changing relationship with the American copyright landscape, can demonstrate how successfully all three of these products—tickets, sheet music, and a public persona—came together to create Sousa’s entrepreneurial success.

Nineteenth-century stage composers often allowed their work to be published in piano reduction, as these simplified editions could enable potential audience members to familiarize themselves with a work’s best numbers at home and thus encourage the purchase of theater tickets. This system proved to be a double-edged sword: a published reduction might act as a powerful form of advertisement, but it could also be used to create unauthorized orchestrations and lead to productions from which the original stage composer saw no financial reward. American copyright law was of little assistance in such cases because the publication of a piano edition effectively voided a composer’s exclusive right to public performance; in other words, once a piece was published anyone was free to adapt, arrange, or produce it publicly.

In order to address this legal gap, composers and librettists often declined to publish certain essential elements of their work, including dialogue, orchestrations, and stage directions. There was, of course, nothing to keep a determined impresario from creating a new orchestration from the published reduction and memorizing everything else from an authorized production. Thus, once an operetta’s songs were published, they could be reorchestrated at will, and anyone clever enough to remember an authorized performance was free to reproduce it for his or her own profit.

As a young theater musician in Philadelphia during the 1870s, Sousa took advantage of this situation by preparing orchestrations of operettas by Arthur Sullivan and W. S. Gilbert, first at the Arch Street Theatre and later for an amateur, touring ensemble. He continued to plunder Gilbert and Sullivan even after he became director of the Marine Band. In 1883 he prepared an orchestration of Iolanthefor the Baltimore-based manager Charles Ford. The Gilbert and Sullivan impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte quickly filed suit alleging two injuries. First, Ford’s traveling company was beating his own troupe to many cities, and demand for the authentic Iolanthe was thereby diminished. This argument was quickly rejected when the court noted that the publication in print of a work “is a complete dedication of it for all purposes to the public.” Because Sousa’s arrangement had been created “by his independent skill and labor” and not obtained “in any surreptitious or unauthorized manner” it was not only perfectly legal, but it was also such “an original work that it could itself be protected.” Hedging his bets, Carte further contended that the “inferior and incomplete” performance mounted by Ford was damaging the reputation and success of his more genuine production. Sousa’s arrangement, which might be “blundering or mechanical,” could potentially harm the reputation of Sullivan himself. Here the court substantially agreed but noted that Carte’s argument was not enough to restrict Ford’s production, which could continue so long as notices were “coupled with a reasonably-conspicuous announcement” that the audience would not be hearing Sullivan’s original orchestrations.[29] Ford was only too happy to comply and advertise the now locally famous John Philip Sousa.

By the turn of the century Sousa’s role had changed; he was no longer a young composer turning the work of more famous figures to his advantage. He was now an accomplished musician whose own creations had value in the marketplace and were thus ripe for the same kinds of uncompensated borrowings that had earlier been experienced by Gilbert and Sullivan. For musicians of Sousa’s generation, however, a new, disruptive technology had been added to the mix. The Columbia Phonograph Company, organized by a group of Washington, D.C., businessmen, acted as a regional distributor for the sale of office dictation equipment, a lucrative enterprise in the capital city. By November 1889, however, Columbia was advertising musical recordings for the entertainment market. Given the uncertainty of public interest in the new technology, Columbia looked to performers who were inexpensive and largely unknown local artists, such as the government clerk and artistic whistler John Y. AtLee and the student pianist Fred Gaisberg, for material.

Columbia naturally also turned to Washington’s largest employer of musicians in its search for new talent. In February 1890 the company announced that it would begin selling recordings of Henry Jaeger, “the celebrated flute and piccolo soloist of the Marine Band.”[30] The organization was soon looking for a larger group on whose reputation it could build, and, as Sousa wrote, men from the company “came over to the barracks while we were rehearsing and put their machines into operation.” Assuming it to be a private experiment, the Marine Band leader allowed the intrusion, but when he discovered that “the disks were being used and our names advertised, we put a stop to the business.” Wanting to protect his men’s financial interests, as well as his own, Sousa arranged for a contract. Columbia soon agreed to pay “each man a dollar an hour for playing selections into the phonographs” (approx. $25 in 2010 U.S. dollars). With the new financial arrangement, Sousa could claim: “The phonograph people were great nuisances to me for a long time, but I am not complaining much now.”[31] By the middle of 1890, therefore, the United States Marine Band had become the first large ensemble to undertake the commercial recording of music, and during Sousa’s tenure as leader it would record about two hundred cylinders.

While these recordings were available for individual sale—at a cost of between $1 and $2 (approx. $25 to $50)—most were placed in coin-operated machines found in public spaces. As the new technology remained a bit of a novelty, the Marine Band’s first recordings were widely covered by the press. Nonetheless, Columbia did launch what was effectively the first advertising campaign on behalf of a particular recording ensemble: “The music of the world-renowned United States Marine Band, which plays at the White House for President Harrison, and has played for his predecessors, is not, and will never be, the cheapest band music, although our prices are very reasonable. You do not want the cheapest. You want the very best and most attractive music that money will buy. . . . And for reproduction in the home, what can be more delightful than to hear the same band that plays for the President?”[32]

It was these early Marine Band recordings that probably brought Sousa to the attention of his future manager, David Blakely. Over the next decade, however, the recording industry would mature to challenge the musical business model as Sousa understood it (a model based on the relationship between sheet music and ticket sales). By the year 1897 some half million cylinders and discs were being produced in the United States. In 1898 that number jumped to 2.8 million.[33] In short, by the late 1890s, the market power of sound recordings presented a fresh financial challenge to the American composer. Live performance, obtained either through concert attendance (requiring the purchase of tickets) or home music making (requiring the purchase of sheet music) was no longer the only way for Americans to experience music. Making matters worse, with copyright law lagging behind the new technology, recording companies were free to mechanically reproduce—with no remuneration to the original composer—any piece that had appeared in print. When the Marine Band made its first recordings, this situation would not have much concerned Sousa. He was, after all, either recording (and thus advertising) his own music, or playing (and not paying for) the music of other composers. As his fame grew, however, Sousa’s own music became an unremunerated commodity performed by ensembles for recording companies from which Sousa saw no profit. In June of 1906 he thus appeared before Congress to testify on behalf of new copyright language that would grant to composers and their publishers “the sole and exclusive right…to make, sell, distribute, or let for hire any device, contrivance, or appliance especially adapted in any manner whatsoever to reproduce to the ear the whole or any material part of any work published and copyrighted.”[34]

As the forces arrayed against this proposal—the commercial recording companies themselves—were quite powerful, Sousa formulated two arguments for his congressional testimony. The first revolved around the legal and moral issues at stake. As an earlier borrower of Arthur Sullivan’s music, however, Sousa knew that mere ethical pleas were unlikely to move a public that wanted cheap access to its favorite entertainment. His second argument, therefore, more directly addressed far-reaching early twentieth-century concerns about the changing face of American culture. He first made this new argument in front of Congress in June of 1906, but its most famous manifestation appeared a few months later in an article Sousa wrote for Appleton’s Magazine entitled “The Menace of Mechanical Music.” In this article Sousa warned that “sweeping across the country with the speed of a transient fashion in slang or Panama hats, political war cries or popular novels, comes now the mechanical device to sing for us a song or play for us a piano, in substitute for human skill, intelligence, and soul.” The new technologies of player pianos and recordings were so dangerous that Sousa felt compelled to spur his public to action before music was reduced to a mere “mathematical system of megaphones, wheels, cogs, disks, cylinders, and all manner of revolving things.” Should he fail in this missionary quest, it would be “simply a question of time when the amateur disappears entirely.”[35]

Sousa’s argument—that recordings could lead to the disappearance of amateur culture—of course spoke directly to his own business model. It was amateur players who purchased Sousa’s sheet music, and it was America’s vast body of amateur music lovers who attended his concerts. To win the support of these amateurs, Sousa appealed to frustrations over the changing landscape of American cultural life. At the very moment Sousa was achieving his fame as the March King, there was in America a growing anxiety about the relationship between leisure and masculine strength. Urbanization may have promised much to the new middle class, but between 1870 and 1910 the opportunities once provided by small-scale, competitive capitalism were visibly on the decline. As Jackson Lears has suggested, such economic uncertainty spawned a strong antimodernist backlash, and many Americans began to wonder whether modern civilization was leading them astray from romanticized notions of nature and the primitive.[36] From The Virginian (1902) to Tarzan of the Apes (1914), popular culture came to celebrate a less restrained sense of manhood and worked to restabilize the heteronormative ideals of untamed masculinity that seemed so vulnerable in the face of a physically softening reliance on technology, a technology that now included recorded music.

It was a sensible business strategy, therefore, for Sousa to tie his financial concerns over copyright to a warning about the weakening of the national body. Knowing that musical practice was an important part of “the curriculum of physical culture,” Sousa questioned the strength of a country without amateur musicians: “Then what of the national throat? Will it not weaken? What of the national chest? Will it not shrink?” If the record companies had their way, masculinity and its connection to nature would be lost along with amateur culture: “The ingenious purveyor of canned music is urging the sportsman, on his way to the silent places with gun and rod, tent and canoe, to take with him some disks, cranks, and cogs to sing to him as he sits by the firelight, a thought as unhappy and incongruous as canned salmon by a trout brook.” Such mechanization even threatened the very fabric of American home life: “It is at the fireside that we look for virtue and patriotism; for songs that stir the blood and fire the zeal; for songs of home, of mother, and of love, that touch the heart and brighten the eye. Music teaches all that is beautiful in this world. Let us not hamper it with a machine that tells the story day by day, without variation, without soul, barren of the joy, the passion, the ardor that is the inheritance of man alone.”[37]

Sousa’s concern was, at least in part, another polite fiction. Under his leadership, the Marine Band had made dozens of recordings, and the Sousa Band itself had made hundreds. When pressed on this issue before congress, Sousa relied on a technicality. While his ensembles had indeed made recordings, he himself had not led them: “I will not deny that my band played for their records, but I never was in the laboratory of the phonograph company in my life.”[38]

Whether Sousa was honestly concerned about the strength of the national chest and the virility of the national throat or simply worried about his income as a composer is hardly of concern. He knew that his audiences were worried about the feminizing effects of modern American culture. As urban life came to replace the more obviously physical world of agriculture, the language of business came to co-opt the masculine body. Music, as an activity that was neither physically virile nor obviously profitable, could easily be found suspect, and so every aspect of the March King worked to reinforce nostalgic notions of masculinity. Sousa was frequently photographed in physical action: playingbaseball, horseback riding, trap-shooting, or boxing. In 1916 he was documented as traveling nearly a thousand miles on horseback in an effort to participate in a number of shooting competitions. The same year he was elected president of the American Amateur Trapshooters’ Association and in 1917 chairman of the National Association of Shotgun Owners. In 1899 the New York World was even invited to observe Sousa at the gym: “You see bared before the camera the muscular right arm that has wielded the baton to the delight of millions, the sturdy fist that wrote El Capitan.”[39] In short, the Sousa presented to crowds across the country was not simply a composer or conductor; he was a manifestation of an endangered—but deeply desirable—image of American masculinity.

Sousa’s “The Menace of Mechanical Music” thus serves as just one example of the March King’s business plan. By appealing to public concern regarding the changing role of masculinity at the start of the twentieth century, Sousa hoped to convince his fans that the survival of American physical prowess (embodied in the amateur musician) necessitated a law restricting the rights of record companies. It was, at least publically, mere happenstance that the same law would help to line Sousa’s pockets through the establishment of mechanical royalties. He was, of course, successful, and on March 4, 1909, President Roosevelt signed a new law that granted to composers the exclusive right to control their music. As a reward for his service Sousa was made an officer in the newly formed American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), the very organization created to police mechanical royalties.

“Americanism and Only Americanism”

The celebrity culture of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America allowed little room for the celebration of ethnicity. Indeed, Sousa worked tirelessly to appear an American everyman. Through baseball and boxing he took part in the pastimes of his day, and Sousa worked to shape his own autobiography so that it presented a native and self-made entertainer. He explained, for example, that as a young man he took part in a series of string quartet readings at the residence of the second assistant secretary of state William Hunter. This official took a special interest in the young musician and began looking for a way to finance his European education. To that end, Hunter presented Sousa to William Wilson Corcoran, a Washington-based banker turned philanthropist. Sousa explained that after an interview he was instructed to call again and learn of the results. He did not comply: “I never got out of a house quicker than I did out of that one, and I didn’t call in five or six days; in fact, I haven’t called up to date! The idea of being under obligations to anybody was very distasteful to me.”[40]

The veracity of Sousa’s story is impossible to judge, but regardless of its truth, his recollection was useful to the March King. In an era when most composers of art music active in the United States enjoyed a European training, Sousa could package himself as a native musician through and through: “Though Mr. Corcoran might have sent me to Europe, I feel that I am better off as it is—even without the benefits of a European education—for I may therefore consider myself a truly American musician.”[41] Americanism was, of course, an important quality of the March King, and the press loved to highlight it. In introducing the bandmaster to Chicago in 1892, one reporter explained that Sousa “is an American, born in Washington under the shadow of the capitol dome” who “breathed the inspiration of his work from the center of the nation’s history. He was brought up there, educated at a public school and is about as near one of us as anybody could be, with his name. John is a fine-looking, military-toned man, with good carriage and unaffected grace.”[42] In the end, the public Sousa became both the child of immigrants and a generic American, thus helping to cement a personal bond with those in his audience who shared a similar biographical history.

Even Sousa’s concerts were designed to hide the March King’s celebrity status and instead stress his accessibility. A typical printed program might list just eight or nine numbers, and on it Sousa’s name would be largely absent, appearing only next to his latest march and a programmatic work or suite. During the performance, however, virtually every piece listed was followed by an encore, and very often that encore was a Sousa march. In performing his own works only when they were demanded as encores, Sousa became not some distant artist, but rather a simple entertainer complying with the democratic wishes of his fellow citizens: “Marches are only a small part of my programmes,” he wrote. “There is rarely more than one listed. If the audience gets others, it is because they are demanded as encores.”[43]

Like so many of Sousa’s autobiographical statements, this notion of marches as spontaneously demanded encores is a polite fiction. The band’s advertised programs would have been unacceptably short without encores, and by all accounts Sousa’s marches appeared far too quickly not to have been planned. But most important, they were what drew audiences to the theater in the first place: each encore was an integral part of any Sousa performance, and their absence would surely have resulted in a revolt. In camouflaging his own fantastically popular marches as mere encores, Sousa fictitiously invited his public to take part in the evening’s programming and engage with their bandmaster in an illusionary dialogue. Sousa’s character in this story happily responded with an endearing generosity. The public Sousa was thus no prima donna; his programming humbled the March King before his audiences and countered any perception of rarified art.

The composer whose name appeared most frequently on Sousa programs was the German Richard Wagner. When Wagner’s works were staged in New York they often became a nearly religious symbol of rarified European high art. But Sousa did not present Wagner’s music as an ode to German culture; rather, he conceived of it as sophisticated but still popular entertainment. In comparing himself to the great German-American conductor Theodore Thomas, Sousa explained that Thomas “gave Wagner, Liszt, and Tchaikowsky, in the belief that he was educating his public; I gave Wagner, Liszt and Tchaikowsky with the hope that I was entertaining my public.”[44]

World War I might have brought Sousa face to face with his German heritage, but by the 1910s his fame was secure, and the immigrant status of his parents long forgotten. In solidarity with his public Sousa cut back on programming Wagner, shaved his famous beard in defiance of the Kaiser, and even suggested that Mendelssohn’s music be banished from American weddings. He vowed to write new processional music, issued a directive to young men—“Don’t propose until I compose”—and published his “American Wedding March” in 1918.[45] When the German-born conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra failed to perform the “Star-Spangled Banner,” Sousa helped to stoke the public outrage: “If Dr. Karl Muck doesn’t like his orchestra to play the Star Spangled Banner, or any other American anthem, he had better get back to Germany, where he belongs… Dr. Muck is not alone in this criticism. Other German artists who may be in this country should accept our demands, or get out. We have no place for them. No time for them.”[46]

Such comments were not unique to Sousa, but given not only his prominent place in American culture but his name’s nearly synonymous connection to patriotism, Sousa made frequent public statements in support of a homogenous American nation. In a public letter written late in 1917, Sousa offered his opinion on the teaching of foreign languages—especially German—in public schools. He offered strong support to just one kind of immigrant experience: “We want no Deutscherburgs, no Little Italies, no Polish settlements, no Jewish Ghettos. We want the comer to our shores to imbibe Americanism and only Americanism. The quicker we make an American out of him the better for him and for ourselves.”[47]

Given the lack of surviving business records, it is impossible to know just how financially successful John Philip Sousa really was.[48] But the forty-year triumph of his touring band, the omnipresence of his music in American cultural life, and the frequent appearance of his name in American newspapers and magazines, suggest that Sousa achieved considerable wealth. It is equally impossible to know his real feelings about his own ethnic experience, and this lacuna is due to the March King’s celebrity status. From his claim never to have entered the Columbia recording studios, to his sly incorporation of concert encores, to the polite fiction of Siegfried Ochs, everything about the March King’s public persona was carefully crafted to illicit a positive response. The real John Philip Sousa is thus largely lost to us; nonetheless, there is little reason to consider Sousa a charlatan. His personal library and his public writings make clear that Sousa was well-read, well-acquainted with international events, and well in love with the country adopted by his immigrant parents.


[1] John Philip Sousa, Marching Along: Recollections of Men, Women and Music (Boston: Hale, Cushman, and Flint, 1928; repr. and ed. Paul E. Bierley, Westerville, Ohio: Integrity, 1994), 307. Sousa’s autobiography was a revision of six articles the bandmaster published in the Saturday Evening Post under the title “Keeping Time” (1925). In several instances he added lengthy quotations from his other published articles, and in this case he is reprinting from “Mr. John Philip Sousa Denies a Popular Fiction,” Etude 26 (April 1908), 224. The story about S.O., U.S.A. persisted long enough that it had to be denied even after Sousa’s death; see, e.g., “The Origin of Sousa’s Name,” Etude 54 (Sep. 1936): 545, 589.

[2] Sousa, Marching Along, 24.

[3] Sousa, Through the Year with Sousa (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1910), entry for Nov. 8.

[4] One example of Sousa reflecting on his name and potential ancestors can be found in “John Philip Sousa Tells Origin of His Name and How He Composes,” Telegraph (Macon, Ga.), Feb. 11, 1906.

[5] “Interview with John Phillip [sic] Sousa,” Music (June 1898): 171.

[6] Sousa, Through the Year with Sousa (1910), entry for Nov. 8. None of Sousa’s siblings found the fame of their eldest brother. George Williams did serve as a percussionist and librarian in the United States Marine Band, while Antonio Augustus became a popular sports writer in Washington.

[7] Sousa, Marching Along, 22–23.

[8] Ibid., 292.

[9] Ibid., 23.

[10] Ibid., 24.

[11] Ibid., 292.

[12] Sousa does seem to have assisted his mother in maintaining the family home, but Elisabeth was not so financially secure that she failed to petition Congress for access to a disputed portion of her late husband’s pension.

[13] Ford’s Opera House was operated by John T. Ford, who was also the manager of Ford’s Theatre, the site of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.

[14] Sousa, Marching Along, 343.

[15] Commandant Charles McCawley in Sousa, Marching Along, 68.

[16] For details on Marine Band press, see Patrick Warfield, “Making the Band: John Philip Sousa, David Blakely, and the Creation of the Sousa Band,” American Music 24 (Spring 2006): 30–66

[17] “A Popular Band,” Musical Courier 26, no. 18 (May 3, 1893): 13.

[18] “Where the Surf Roars,” clipping labeled Commercial Advertiser (New York), July 3, 1893, Sousa Press Book HJ 2, p. 43, Library of the United States Marine Band, Washington, D.C. The Marine Band library houses more than eighty press books—cataloged with the designation “HJ”—that contain newspaper accounts and programs related to Sousa and his ensemble.

[19] Paul E. Bierley, John Philip Sousa: American Phenomenon (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1973; reprinted and revised, Westerville, Ohio: Integrity Press, 1998), 61 (page citations are to the reprint edition).

[20] Blakely to Sousa, May 21, 1895, quoted in Blakely v. Sousa, 197 Pa. 305, 307 (Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, 1900).

[21] Blakely v. Sousa, 318.

[22] “Sousa’s Band Plays Twice Sunday,” clipping labeled Tribune (Detroit, Mich.), April 6, 1899, HJ 8, p. 243.

[23] Sousa, Marching Along, 340.

[24] John Philip Sousa, “The Business of the Bandmaster,” clipping labeled Criterion (August 1900), HJ 12, p. 47.

[25] “The Sousa Dispute,” clipping labeled Evening Leader (Wilkes-Barre), April 9, 1897, HJ 5, p. 4.

[26] Blakely v. Sousa.

[27] For details on this tour see Patrick Warfield, “The Essence of Uncle Sam: John Philip Sousa’s 1911 World Tour” in Kongreßbericht Oberwölz/Steiermark 2004. Alta Musica 25, ed. Bernhard Habla, 359–378 (Tutzing, Ger.: Schneider, 2006).

[28] Otis Skinner in a Sousa press package, c. Dec. 1896, p. 71, Printed Ephemera, David Blakely Papers, New York Public Library. A more thorough examination of the March King persona can be found in Patrick Warfield, “The March as Musical Drama and the Spectacle of John Philip Sousa,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 64 (2011): 289–318.

[29] Carte v. Ford (The IolantheCase), 15 F. 439, 447 (C.C.D. Md. 1883).

[30] Columbia brochure, Feb. 1890, in Tim Brooks, “Columbia Records in the 1890’s: Founding the Record Industry,” Association for Recorded Sound Collections Journal 10 (1978): 7.

[31] Sousa in a clipping labeled Traveller(Boston), Sep. 11, 1890, Fowles Scrapbook, p. 67, United States Marine Band Library, Washington, D.C.

[32] Columbia advertisement, Phonogram (Oct. 1891).

[33] Brooks, “Columbia Records in the 1890’s,” 23.

[34] Proposed language quoted in E. Fulton Brylawski and Abe Goldman, eds. Legislative History of the 1909 Copyright Act (South Hackensack, N.J.: Rothman, 1976), vol. 4, pt. H, v.

[35] Sousa, “The Menace of Mechanical Music,” Appleton’s Magazine 8, no. 3 (Sep. 1906): 278–80. More detail on this article can be found in Patrick Warfield, “John Philip Sousa and ‘The Menace of Mechanical Music,’” Journal of the Society for American Music 3 (Nov. 2009): 431–63.

[36] T. J. Jackson Lears, No Place of Grace: Antimodernism and the Transformation of American Culture, 1880–1920 (New York: Pantheon, 1981).

[37] Sousa, “The Menace,” 281–282.

[38] Sousa, testimony before congress (Dec. 10, 1906), in Brylawski and Goldman, pt. J, p. 312.

[39] “Sousa as a Boxer,” clipping labeled Morning World (New York), August 13, 1899, HJ 9, p. 28.

[40] Sousa, Marching Along, 31.

[41] Ibid.

[42] “Marine Band Concert,” clipping labeled Daily News (Chicago), March 22, 1892, Fowles, pp. 52–53.

[43] Sousa in “Mme. Chaminade and John Philip Sousa Talk about Music,” New York Herald, Nov. 15, 1908. A portion of this conversation appears in Marching Along, 294.

[44] Sousa, Marching Along, 132.

[45] Sousa, as quoted in a number of newspaper articles, see for example “Star Spangled Banner Real ‘Wedding March’ of 1918 June Brides,” Evening World (New York), June 5, 1918.

[46] Sousa in “Muck Should Get out of U.S., Thinks Sousa,” clipping labeled Journal (Mich.), Nov. 16, 1917, HJ 47, p. 97. For more on Muck’s difficulties see Joseph Horowitz, Moral Fire: Musical Portraits from America’s Fin de Siècle (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012). 62–70.

[47] John Philip Sousa, “Wean Immigrant from Alienism Says Sousa,” clipping labeled Journal (Milwaukee), Dec. 14, 1917, HJ 47, p. 120.

[48] Most of the band’s business records were destroyed after Sousa’s death. A small number of early contracts can be found in the David Blakely Papers at the New York Public Library. Some later contracts are preserved at the library of the United States Marine Band.

Citation Information

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  • Article Title John Philip Sousa
  • Coverage 1854-1932
  • Author
  • Website Name Immigrant Entrepreneurship
  • URL
  • Access Date April 18, 2024
  • Publisher German Historical Institute
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update August 22, 2018