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John Philip Sousa:
American Military Bands

The United States Marine Band is this country's oldest military band. Each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces has its own band, and song. Lieutenant Don Schofield, associate conductor of the United States Air Force Band of Flight, talks with Naomi Lewin about all the U.S. military bands.

Music heard in this episode:
Sousa: Semper Fidelis
Philips: Marines' Hymn
Miller: In the Mood
Crawford: Air Force Song
Sousa: La Reine de La Mer
Zimmerman: Anchors Aweigh
Gruber: Caisson Song

Other shows about John Philip Sousa:
I Love a Parade!
About John Philip Sousa
About "Stars & Stripes"
The Golden Age of American Bands

Download this month's activity sheet

About John Philip Sousa
11/6/1854 - 3/6/1932
Born in America

American bandmaster and composer John Philip Sousa was born in Washington D.C. He was the son of Portuguese and German immigrants. His father played trombone in the United States Marine Band, and the younger Sousa was always interested in bands. When he was 13, he nearly ran off to join a circus band. His father found out about the plan, and stuck him in the Marine Band instead.

In addition to playing band instruments, Sousa played violin, and that's how he met his wife. She was a singer, and he was playing in the orchestra of the theater where she worked. Sousa was also a theater composer -- he wrote 15 operettas.

Eventually, John Philip Sousa went back to bands. He spent 12 years as conductor of the Marine Band, and then left to start a concert band of his own. The Sousa Band toured all over the world, playing to sold-out houses.

John Philip Sousa literally continued conducting up until his death. He died suddenly after leading a band rehearsal. The final piece he conducted at the rehearsal was "The Stars and Stripes Forever."

See other composers born in America


This Week's Quiz:

1. Which band was America's first military band?

The Marine Band

The Army Band

The Navy Band

The Air Force Band

The Coast Guard Band

2.Who wrote the Air Force song?

A general

A pilot

A conductor

A pianist

A doctor

3. How do you join a military band?

Join the army

Register to Vote

Ask your Congressman


Graduate from music school


John Philip Sousa
The Stars and Stripes Forever

Composed in 1896
Performed by Richard Hayman and His Symphony Orchestra
Richard Hayman, conductor

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