The Heritage of John Philip Sousa: Volume 8


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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 8: The Fabulous Sousa Band

Little did the impresario David Blakely know, when he founded Sousa's Band in 1892, that it would be in existence thirty-five years after his death and be known as the most successful organization of its kind in history.

By offering high salaries and more security than orchestras, the finest musicians available were engaged. Understandably, the band was (initially) on par with the world's leading symphony orchestras. It must be remembered that Sousa's Band was a concert organization, not a marching band.

Many of the greatest wind instrument players performed with Sousa at one time or another - men like Herbert L. Clarke, Arthur Pryor and Simone Mantia. His distinguished soprano soloists, such as Madame Estelle Liebling, added still another dimension. The same was true of the violin soloists - Maud Powell, for example. Every chair was filled with a show-wise musician who had reached, or was about to reach, the pinnacle of success.

Sousa's annual tours were grueling, usually with two concerts per day, seven days a week, for months on end. Quite often he performed in two cities per day. The concerts were long and extremely difficult, with only seconds between numbers. When playing at fairs and expositions, he scheduled four completely different concerts per day, including Sundays, for several weeks, and without rehearsals! In all, Sousa's Band traveled well over a million miles, making four tours of Europe and one tour around the world.

A list of Sousa Band alumni reads like a "Who's Who in American Music," and their influence on the nation's music scene was staggering. They held a sort of reverence for Sousa, as evidenced by their own unique organization. This is the Sousa Band Fraternal Society, still going strong nearly half a century after their maestro left the stage.

The above essay was written by Paul Bierley, the world's foremost authority on, and biographer of, Sousa. A similar essay will appear on each of the volumes in this series.

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