|"The Invincible Eagle March"|
Composed by John Philip Sousa - 1901|
Dallas Wind Symphony - Dallas, TX.
In 1901, Sousa wrote the march, The Invincible Eagle for the performance of his band at the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. He considered naming it "The Spirit of Niagara" in recognition of the exposition, but decided not to localize it because he thought his new march might eventually rival "The Stars and Stripes Forever." Soon after its premiere, Sousa described the conviction and spirit which compelled him to compose the march, noting, "It is what I call one of my sunshine marches. Some of my heavy marches are intended to convey the impression of the stir and strife of warfare, but The Invincible Eagle shows the military spirit at its lightest and brightest - the parade spirit . . . with the bravery of uniform, the sheen of silken stands, and the gleam of polished steel."
On 30 May, The Invincible Eagle premiered in Philadelphia. Sousa lead his band in the premiere performance held at the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, NY, One of Sousa's more popular marches, it did not quite achieve the success of Stars and Stripes, despite the composer's feeling that it would.
As the piece develops, however, it turns more dramatic, its nonchalant manner and fanfare-like episodes divulging greater heroism. Textures grow denser and the main theme transforms, taking on a more confident and less playful demeanor. In the end, this march must be assessed as on the same level with Stars and Stripes and Sousa's other masterful band works.
Many listeners often assumed the instrumentation in Sousa's band compositions was somehow less complex, leading to an automatic kind of sound to achieve. Hearing familiar masterworks like The Invincible Eagle and Stars and Stripes might especially reinforce such an errant view. But it was in compositions like these that he helped lay the foundation for the sound world of patriotic and celebratory band music. The Invincible Eagle opened with a brief fanfare and then presents one of those typically bouncy, festive themes, suggesting little that is heroic or patriotic, but so much that is typical of the style, of Sousa.
John Philip Sousa himself thought that "The Invincible Eagle" would turn out to be more popular than “Stars & Stripes Forever” and it remained one of his favorite marches. In supporting his thoughts, he wrote extensive program and rehearsal notes to help ensure authentic performances true to the style of the period. A truly great march that belongs in every band library!
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Revised 11 Jan '13 SpellChecked