Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Making the March King

Making the March King: John Philip Sousa's Washington Years, 1854-1893

Patrick Warfield
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 336
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Making the March King
    Book Description:

    John Philip Sousa's mature career as the indomitable leader of the United States Marine Band and his own touring Sousa Band is well known, but the years leading up to his emergence as a celebrity have escaped serious attention. In this revealing biography, Patrick Warfield explains the making of the March King by documenting Sousa's early life and career. Covering the period 1854 to 1893, this study focuses on the community and training that created Sousa, exploring the musical life of late nineteenth-century Washington D.C. and Philadelphia as a context for Sousa's development. Warfield examines Sousa's wide-ranging experience composing, conducting, and performing in the theater, opera house, concert hall, and salons, as well as his leadership of the United States Marine Band and the later Sousa Band, early twentieth-century America's most famous and successful ensemble. Sousa composed not only marches during this period but also parlor, minstrel, and art songs; parade, concert, and medley marches; schottisches, waltzes, and polkas; and incidental music, operettas, and descriptive pieces. Warfield's examination of Sousa's output reveals a versatile composer much broader in stylistic range than the bandmaster extraordinaire remembered as the March King. Warfield presents the story of Sousa as a self-made business success, a gifted performer and composer who deftly capitalized on his talents to create one of the most entertaining, enduring figures in American music.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09507-8
    Subjects: History, Music

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Prelude. A Triumph on the Waves
    (pp. xv-xx)

    Austin corbin opened his Manhattan Beach Hotel on the Fourth of July 1877. From the resort’s seemingly endless veranda near the eastern edge of Coney Island, overnight guests could enjoy carefully manicured lawns and cool ocean breezes before retiring to lavishly decorated rooms. All of this pleasure was reaped while safely isolated from the island’s seedier western edge, an area dotted with the beer gardens, brothels, and sideshows that later earned the island its nickname: Sodom-by-the-Sea. Corbin promoted an unsullied air of refinement removed from such ordinary entertainments. His gleaming expanse of white beach marked the geographic division, but the...

  6. Part I. The Apprentice

    • CHAPTER ONE A Capital Boyhood
      (pp. 3-24)

      There is no truth to the rumor that John Philip Sousa was born in England as Sam Ogden and immigrated to the United States with luggage bearing his initials and destination: “S. O., U.S.A.” This popular story, which continues to be heard even today, was the work of Sousa’s most ambitious press agent, Colonel George Frederick Hinton. Never one to let a good gimmick go to waste, Hinton varied his tale as the Sousa Band made its way across America and around the globe. During the ensemble’s travels he created musicians with names such as S. Oulette, Sigismund Ochs, and...

    • CHAPTER TWO Into the Pit
      (pp. 25-48)

      Describing the salaries of marine band musicians in 1885, Secretary of the Navy William Whitney explained that “the compensation provided by the Government is based somewhat upon the supposition that enlisted musicians will supplement their Government pay from private employment.” That government income has always been dependent on rank, and, of course, it fluctuates with congressional appropriations. In the late nineteenth century most band members could expect a salary of between about $25 and $40 per month, a humble stipend to be modestly augmented whenever a private organization paid the band to appear at a dinner, dance, reception, or excursion....

    • CHAPTER THREE A Nineteenth-Century Musical Career
      (pp. 49-64)

      In many ways the historical John Philip Sousa has been the victim of the March King’s incredible success. He is today fully his stage name: a musician known only for a handful of three-minute works written for ensembles of winds alone. It is true that Sousa’s greatest artistic achievements came in the form of marches and that his public fame was secured from the bandstand. But the Sousa of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was much more than a march king, and to think of his creative career as limited to “The Washington Post” or “The Stars and...

  7. Part II. The Professional

    • CHAPTER FOUR The Centennial City
      (pp. 67-99)

      Sousa had promised benjamin swallow that he would leave Washington for two years, prove himself financially, and return to marry Emma May. Choosing a career in music may never have been the safest way to achieve this goal, but by 1876 Sousa was a well-trained journeyman capable of finding work in a theater orchestra, traveling show, or publishing firm. By the end of the decade he would succeed in all three types of jobs, and this success would come in a city that offered unique opportunities for a young musician.

      The International Exhibition of Arts, Manufactures, and Products of the...

    • CHAPTER FIVE A Presidential Musician
      (pp. 100-123)

      Even before becoming the leader of the United States Marine Band in 1873, Louis Schneider had been a proud musician: he often boasted of his days with Napoleon III’s Royal Band, Theodore Thomas’s orchestra, Patrick Gilmore’s ensemble, and Adelina Patti’s tour, and by all accounts he prominently wore the medals awarded to him by such admirers as the king of Italy, the emperor of France, and the pope. Despite his exalted résumé, Schneider’s first years in Washington had not gone particularly smoothly. One summer evening in 1878 he was even more drunk than usual. Making his way home to the...

    • CHAPTER SIX Civilian Music in Washington
      (pp. 124-146)

      In december 1880 the german violinist August Wilhelmj presented a concert in Washington’s Lincoln Hall. The press fawned: “The exquisite production of beautiful echoes and rapid variations of sound which he gives is simply a wonder of delight to lovers of music. He holds the audience in a trance.” Entranced along with the rest of the audience was the eight-year-old Martha Leavitt Beckwith Saxton, who, in annotating her program, was far more direct: “My first concert—I was delighted with it.” Mattie attended a second concert in March 1881, this one by the young Brazilian violinist Mauricio Dengremont. The third...

  8. Part III. The March King

    • CHAPTER SEVEN America’s Court Composer
      (pp. 149-179)

      In 1898 themusical courierdeclared: “It is Sousa in the band, Sousa in the orchestra, Sousa in the phonograph, Sousa in the hand organ, Sousa in the music box, Sousa everywhere. The American composer is the man, not of the hour or of the day, but of the time!” Such claims for Sousa’s reach into American culture were commonplace by the late 1890s, but they demonstrate a level of fame unfathomable to the bandmaster just a decade earlier. Sousa was still a merely local musician: a composer and conductor who may have dreamt of success on the national stage...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Making the Sousa Band
      (pp. 180-225)

      Eduard strauss was busily preparing for a tour of the New World in the spring of 1890. He had largely taken over the family dynasty and was now looking to capitalize on the popularity of his last name in the United States. A transatlantic excursion was no minor undertaking, but Strauss had been convinced to make the journey by a former Minnesota secretary of state named David Blakely. As one-time proprietor of the St. PaulPioneer Press, the MinneapolisTribune, and the ChicagoEvening Post, as well as founder of a successful Chicago printing company, Blakely had already proved that...

    • CHAPTER NINE Theater on the Bandstand
      (pp. 226-262)

      John philip sousa’s music is today almost unavoidable as it travels across the American soundscape, appearing on concert programs, at sporting events, during patriotic celebrations, in films, and in advertisements. For the modern listener this Sousa is all and only the March King, a view that, at least in part, is in keeping with the historical record. After their success at Manhattan Beach in the summer of 1893, Sousa and his ensemble settled into a comfortable routine of tours and residencies. Along the way, the director’s own marches always served as an important part of the draw: a new march...

  9. Epilogue. Marching Along
    (pp. 263-272)

    On may 14, 1897, john philip sousa and his band of fifty musicians arrived in Philadelphia, where they were scheduled to begin a series of three concerts at the Academy of Music. The arrival of the celebrated ensemble coincided with that of William McKinley, and both the president and the March King were in town to celebrate the dedication of Rudolf Siemering’s statue of George Washington in Fairmount Park. Sousa was well known to Philadelphia audiences by this time. As a young man he had played a small part in the centennial celebrations, performed in the city’s theaters, and written...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 273-296)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 297-312)
  12. Index
    (pp. 313-332)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 333-340)