Jack's Musings June 2009 June 22 2009, 0 Comments

Sousa in the News: From the Pages of America's Newspapers

Jack Kopstein

John Philip Sousa has been celebrated in both books and articles that have been written by a vast array of writers and music historians. Recently newspapers from across America have been made available, and a treasure chest of Sousa memorabilia has emerged. This article focuses on the Sousa phenomenon as written in newspapers across America and Canada. The Nebraska State Journal announced the arrival of the Sousa band on February 19, 1899, with a headline reading John Philip Sousa to Lead band in Concert. The article following said: "Since its organization in 1892, the Sousa band has been continuously employed touring throughout the USA and the Dominion of Canada. The secret of his success lies largely on the fact that Mr Sousa has realised the musical preferences of his public." The Decatur Review of November 12, 1902, reported Sousa Came to Town.  "John Philip Sousa appeared at the Opera House in Decatur Sunday night and his band was greeted with a surprise. Dad Stearn local hotel proprietor recited a poem he had written, and Mr Sousa made an appropriate response." Ceder Rapids, Iowa was the site of another great Sousa concert. On Thursday, November 16, 1911, the local paper, the Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette, announced Sousa Greatest of all bandmasters was Here-" Rich and varied program Given at Green's Hall last night, Audience was delighted- John Philip Sousa , the march King and peerless band leader brought his unrivalled musical organization to Cedar Rapids last night and won enthusiastic applause." Canadian audiences loved the music of Sousa as evidenced by this article in the Manitoba (Winnipeg)Free Press of July 19, 1919. Six fine programmes Announced for Sousa Band Concerts Here.-"famous bandmaster visited Winnipeg in 1899, Remarkable popularity gained since then"..The well-known cornetist Frank Simon was listed as a soloist in the programmes which were published. Sousa was extremely popular in the three "I" States, and played Davenport, Iowa several times in the forty years of the his band's existence. On October 16, 1924, the Davenport Leader said, "No bandmaster has developed more soloists it has been said than John Philip Sousa, whose annual concert in Davenport highlights the cities musical activities. At the concert Monday evening at the Masonic Temple, Lt Sousa will feature John Dolan, cornet soloist. Sousa was often referred to by his World War 1 rank which he had as bandmaster at the Chicago Navy Yard where he organized a band for the United States Navy." The Sousa band always advertised their concerts in advance and the November 7, 1926 edition of the Charleston Gazette announced his arrival with a large 3 column ad saying HEAR SOUSA AND HIS BAND and the ad went on to advise patrons of his upcoming programmes with three of his marches -The Sequa-Centennial march, the Gridiron Club March and the march Pride of the Wolverines. Following Sousa's passing on March 6, 1932, newspapers from across the entire nation offered salutes to America's greatest bandmaster. As a testament to his popularity, musical ensembles across North America continue to celebrate his music and his creativity with concerts and memorials. It can be said that his name still provides the capacity to be seen in the news and hundreds of feature stories in America's newspapers.  This is a true test of the impact that Sousa has had upon music in the United States. For more on the SOUSA phenomenon, order The Incredible Band of John Philip Sousa by Paul Bierly from the Altissimo Catalog.