Composer John Philip Sousa was born in Washington DC on November 6, 1854. His early education was in private schools and then at the John Esputa Conservatory where he studied with George Benkert.
At the age of 17, Sousa conducted a theatrical unit, performing as first violinist in Offenbach’s Philadelphia orchestra at the Centennial Expo in 1876. From 1880-1892, Sousa was the leader of the United States Marine Corp Band and from 1917-1919 he was the music director at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station.
In 1892, he formed his own band and traveled throughout the world. He began writing his own instrumental marches such as “Sember Fidelis”, “The Thunderer”, “Washington Post March”, “High School Cadets”, “Liberty Bell”, “Manhattan Beach”, “The Picador”, “King Cotton”, “On Parade”, “El Capitan”, “The Stars and Stripes Forever”, “Hands Across the Sea”, “Invincible Eagle”, “Jack Tar”, “Field Artillery”, “Fairest of the Fair”, “New York Hippodrome March”, “Solid Men to the Front”, “The Free Lance”, “Sabre and Spurs”, “Nobles of the Mystic Shrine”, “Black Horse Troop”, “Pride of the Wolverines”, “Boy Scouts of America” and “Hail to the Spirit of Liberty”.
Sousa also wrote scores for Broadway productions including El Capitan, The Free Lance and The American Maid. His serious music catalog includes suites fro Orchestra and Band, “Last Days of Pompeii”, “3 Quotations” and “Sheridan’s Ride.”
Sousa received an honorary music degree from the Pennsylvania Military College and Marquette University. He was also the recipient of the Medal of the Victorian Order, Cross of Artistic Merit, First Class from the Academy of Hainault and made an Officer of French Academy. Sousa was also a charter member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) in 1914 and served as its vice president from 1924-1932.
John Philip Sousa died in Reading, Pennsylvania on March 6, 1932.