|" Riders For The Flag"|
|Composed For The 4th Cavalry Regiment John Phillip Sousa (1927)|
John Philip Sousa was born in Washington, D.C., on 06 November, 1854. Sousa received his early education in Washington public schools, while simultaneously studying music at a private conservatory operated by John Esputa Sr. At the age of 13, he enlisted in the US Marine Band, in which his father played trombone, as a "boy" (apprentice) musician, but he also continued his private music studies.
His major instrument was violin which he studied with George Felix Benkert from 1864 to 1867, but Sousa also took lessons on the piano, flute, cornet, baritone, trombone, alto horn, and voice. Benkert also taught Sousa harmony and composition. After serving seven years with the marines, he was discharged and performed as a violinist and conductor in various theater orchestras in Washington and Philadelphia.
By 1880, his fame as a conductor, composer, and arranger had been established. He was appointed leader of the US Marine Band and held this position for 12 years, eventually molding the band into one of the finest military bands in the world.
Sousa resigned from the Marine Corps in 1892 to form his own civilian band, and in a matter of months this band assumed a position of equality with the finest symphony orchestras of the day. It was a concert organization, not a marching band. The finest available instrumentalists were engaged, and among the celebrated soloists to perform with the band over the years were Herbert L. Clarke (cornet), Arthur Pryor (trombone), and Simone Mantia (euphonium).
People throughout the world flocked to see the "March King" during his many American and worldwide tours. He employed a principle which endeared him to the public: everything was played to perfection, whether it was a classical masterpiece or a popular song. Foremost in Sousa's mind was how best to please his audiences.
A man of tremendous energy, Sousa adjudicated at numerous regional and national band festivals, frequently served as guest-conductor, participated in a number of organizations, and crusaded for or against several legislative issues which affected the livelihood of musicians. He died suddenly following a rehearsal of the Ringgold Band in Reading, Pennsylvania, on 06 March, 1932. He is buried with other family members at Congressional Cemetery in Washington.
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Revised 10 Apr '12 SpellChecked