Free «John Philip Sousa and the National March of the USA» Essay Sample


John Philip Sousa is the March King in the America. He is famous American composer of the late Romantic era. He is the composer of the USA national patriotic marches. His march ‘The Stars and Stripes Forever’ became a National March of the USA. Sousa started his career by studying music theory and playing violin. In 1868, he became an apprentice of the United States Marine Brand. In 1875, after departing the Brand, Sousa learned to conduct. From 1980 until his death, main point of Sousa’s career was writing marches of those times. Virtually, he established his own brand and set up a large instrument similar to the tuba. He served in the US Marine Corps as the musician and was commissioned as a Lieutenant Commander at the outbreak of World War I. His cultural inheritance includes near 15 operettas (that included over 200 songs) and 136 marches, which have unique power to set the national consciousness up. In addition to this, he created 70 other additional vocal works that included descriptive pieces, dances, humoresque, and fantasies. The most popular of his marches, “The Stars and Stripes Forever” was created in 1896.

Who Was John Philip Sousa?

John Sousa was born on November 6, 1854, inWashingtonD.C. His parents had Portugal and German origin. Being the pupil of Washington public school, Sousa studied music at a private conservatory (Hitchcock, 1986). There, young John Sousa have been studying the composition and harmony and was mastering the play on violin. The main teacher that made a great impact on the development of his talent was George Felix Benkert. Eventually, John Sousa became the violinist and conductor in many orchestras and theaters in Philadelphia and Washington.

The orchestra he established in 1982 got the position of the finest symphony orchestra in a matter of months. John Philip Sousa tended to think that everything should be played to perfection, no matter whether it was a popular song or classical masterpiece. Sousa did American and other worldwide tours few times to present his art to the population of his native and other countries. Undoubtedly, Sousa had extraordinary talent and was a person of considerable self-discipline. Moreover, he was the person of incredibly high moral standards; he excelled in everything he started. Nothing seemed impossible to him from his childhood. They say that John Sousa was determined and optimistic person, who obviously saw his aim and was moving straight to it.

John Sousa’s Musical Psychology

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Everything he created was done with the aim to please his audience as much as possible. His psychology was stimulating his composing. Once, he said that he would rather create an inspired march than a manufactured symphony (Bierley, 2007). This point of view is reflected in all his works. As the matter of fact, he composed only due to genius inspiration he took from High Power. John Philip Sousa was a religious man.

Sousa was obsessed with his art. He had a great passion for what he has doing. He often said that people never would hear about his retiring. If somebody would say he got retired, people might be sure he was dead. During his lifetime, he was honored by election to the Hall of Fame for Great Americans. It is a great honor because only 102 great Americans were rewarded in the same way.

His success and glory was credited to the number of factors. The first one is his unabashed patriotism. It brings triumphant moods to his marches. Actually, America was animated by his music. John P. Sousa and his art made great impact on American national patriotism and made people proud of their country. He successfully underlined the glory and strength of the country that had born him and all citizens.

The Legendary “The Stars and Stripes Forever” by John P. Sousa

The “Stars and Stripes Forever” is the most frequent and perhaps the most famous piece of American music. Almost 80 years have passed after John Philip Sousa’s death, but his music still takes a central part in American experience. When people speak about Sousa or his march, they usually speak of the patriotism. It is necessary to say that over 100 years, orchestras all over the country are playing the “Starts and Stripes Forever” nonstop (Hitchcock, 1988). Therefore, it is obvious that the march written by Sousa gained great popularity and took above citizens’ hearts.

“The Starts and Stripes Forever” came out as soon as the American-Spanish war started. Patriotic challenge was soaring. It is the last piece of his work that has been ever conducted. He played it in the day he died, in 1939. Therefore, the words he had told about his working experience came true. Nevertheless, among all the great composers that were living and creating in the USA, John Sousa had the greatest glory and honor.

The story of creation of this march is very interesting. Sousa composed it when he was on board of a ship with the name Teutonic. He has been suffering for his fallen friend and band manager. Suddenly, he heard the rhythmical beat of the brand, which was playing in his mind. In the light of this, he started to write the march that he ended on Christmas Night in 1896.

It is compulsory to emphasis that “The Stars and Stripes Forever” is directly combined with the other national symbol of the United States of America - the flag of the USA. There are  50 Stars and 13 Stripes depicted on it: the stars symbolize 50 states of America and 13 stripes represent British colonies, which declared independence of the United Kingdom of Great Britain. It is important to know that the march composed by Sousa is devoted exactly to these stripes and stars. While creating his composition, he was prompted by the patriotic ideas. As composer, John Philip Sousa could inspire the nation and prompt it to action. Nevertheless, while listening to the march, people felt the union. They were proud of their country and of the fact that they live in it. This creation took a valuable place in the history and remained there almost 80 years after the death of its genius creator.

The march became the official song of the USA in 1987. It is designated in The USA Code, Title 36, Chapter 10. “The Stars and Stripes Forever” has great popularity among modern brands. It sounds often on Memorial Day concerts, football games, and home coming parades. It is the symbol of the Fourth of July.


John Philip Sousa was the first real American superstar. He gained unbelievable glory and success as the composer in the USA. He was a great person of his time. The main aim of his activity was to present high quality music to millions of people. He was tireless trying to realize that goal. For almost 40 years, he was traveling all over the country and Europe to introduce his music to people. He had legendary self-promotion skills. When his orchestra came to the town, this day used to be proclaimed “the Sousa’s Day” and schools and businesses were closed. He earned national glory and sympathy because of his sincere belief that orchestra and composers had to play to the public and prefer its taste. He created the march that sounds few times a year even 150 years after he was born. John P. Sousa left a huge print in the history and culture of his native country. 


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