The Heritage of John Philip Sousa: Volume 2
Altissimo! Recordings is proud to present the Robert Hoe Heritage of the March Collection. It remains the largest single march music record series in history, featuring almost 3,000 different marches! This series has been highly sought by music collectors everywhere, and now for the first time ever, you can own these rare marches from the one and only March King, presented as 2-disc volumes digitally mastered for optimal sound quality and faithfully reproduced. These are digitally re-mastered from vinyl, and were originally recorded between 1974 and 1976.
Volume 2: There is no substance to the story that Sousa's real name was Sam Ogden (an Englishman), or Siegfried Ochs (a German), and that when he came to America his baggage was marked with his initials and destination, i.e., "S.O. - U.S.A.," thereby giving him the idea for a colorful stage name. He was born in Washington, D.C., on November 6, 1954. His father, John Antonio Sousa, was born in Spain of Portuguese parentage, and his mother, Marie Elisabeth Trinkaus, was born in Bavaria.
Sousa received his early education in Washington public school, while simultaneously studying in a private music conservatory. When thirteen, he enlisted in the US Marine Band as a "boy" musician. He continued his private musical training while a Marine, his most important teacher being George Felix Benkert. He was discharged seven years later and worked as a violinist and conductor of various theater orchestras, mostly in Washington and Philadelphia.
By 1880, Sousa had gained fame as a conductor, composer, and arranger, and he was appointed leader of the band in which he had earlier served as apprentice. He held this position for twelve years, gradually molding the Marine Band into one of the finest military music units in the world. He resigned in 1892 to form his own civilian band, SousaÕs Band. This superb and highly polished group of artists made musical history for thirty-nine years, the only interruption being World War I when Sousa was commissioned in the US Navy to organize and train fleet bands.
Sousa was an indefatigable worker, proclaiming that, "When you hear of Sousa retiring you will hear of Sousa dead!" This prediction came true; he died suddenly after a rehearsal in Reading, PA, on March 6, 1932. He is buried with other members of his family at Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
Paul Bierley, the world's foremost authority on, and biographer of, John Philip Sousa, wrote the above essay. A similar essay will appear on each of the volumes in this series.