The Heritage of John Philip Sousa: Volume 3
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 Three: "I would rather be the composer of an inspired march than the composer of a manufactured symphony!"
This was the philosophy of John Philip Sousa, who sincerely believed he was brought into the world to entertain. In his opinion, music for entertainment was of more value to the world than music for education. Basically a humble man, he composed only upon inspiration, and he repeatedly stated that his melodies came from a "Higher Power."
Because of his stereotype as a march writer, Sousa's other works unfortunately have been neglected. We must remember his contribution to operetta and the theater; his songs; his clever humoresques and fantasies; the waltzes and dances; the quaint suites; and hundreds of arrangements and transcriptions, which are almost equal in volume to his original works. Sousa was also unique in that he was one of the most accomplished conductors of his day, promoting his own music all over the world.
It is clear from a study of Sousa's music manuscripts, most of which are now at The Library of Congress, that they are the work of a genius. The sigh of them is awe-inspiring, for Sousa's output literally dwarfs that of most other American composers.
Was Sousa the greatest American composer? This is debatable. However, an important factor is that his music had profound meaning. It is Americana at its very best. He told the story of his beloved country in a manner unparalleled in musical history.
The final criteria for determining a composer's greatness is whether or not his music has stood the test of time. After a full century, we can say that Sousa's music has passed this test with flying colors. Red, white, and blue, to be specific.
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.