John Philip SOUSA
6 November 1854 - 6 March 1932 (age 77)

Sousa - American composer, bandmaster, arranger and writer known as "The March King". He composed 136 marches including "The Stars and Stripes Forever" - the national march of America.





portrait of Sousa


Born: 6 November 1854 , Washington DC
Father: John António de Sousa, born in Spain of Portuguese parents, trombonist in the Marine Band
Mother: Maria Elisabeth Trinkhaus, Bavaria, Germany
Siblings: third of 10 children (5 sisters and 4 brothers)
Wife: Jane van Middlesworth Bellis
Children: 3 John Philip Sousa, Jr., Jane Priscilla and Helen
6 March 1932, Reading, Pa
Grave: Congressional Cemetary, Washington DC. see findagrave



136 Marches the best known of which are:

  • Stars and Stripes Forever
  • Semper Fidelis
  • The Washington Post
  • The Liberty Bell
  • Daughters of Texas
  • The Thunderer
  • King Cotton
  • Manhattan Beach March

10 Operettas including:

  • El Capitan
  • The Queen of Hearts
  • The Smuggglers
  • Desiree


  • The Fifth String - a novel
  • Pipedown Sandy - a novel
  • The Transit of Venus - a novel
  • Marching Along - an autobiography

Here is a more complete listing including some sound clips

"The Stars and Stripes Forever"
"The President's Own" United States Marine Band 


- Age 6 Began studying the violin, harmony and composition.
- Age 13 Apprenticed to the US Marine Corps Band for 7 years.
- Age 22 Played violin in the orchestra conducted by Offenbach at the Centenary Exhibition in Philadelphia. His music was influenced by Offenbach. He also played in various theater pit orchestras where he also learned to conduct.
- Age 26 Returned to Washington as Director of the US Marine Band.
- Age 38 Left the Marines and formed his own - The New Marine Band.
- This was a concert band rather than a marching band and was constantly on tour. There was an annual tour of the USA and Canada. They made four tours of Europe and one round the world tour. They represented America at the 1900 Paris Exhibition.


- "Jazz will endure just as long people hear it through their feet instead of their brains."

- "Sincere composers believe in God."

- "When you hear of Sousa retiring, you will hear of Sousa dead."

- "Let me say that just about the sweetest music to me is when I call, ‘pull,’ the old gun barks, and the referee in perfect key announces, ‘dead’." (referring to his trapshooting interest)

- "Remember always that the composer's pen is still mightier than the bow of the violinist; in you lie all the possibilities of the creation of beauty."

- "These talking machines are going to ruin the artistic development of music in this country. When I was a boy ... in front of every house in the summer evenings, you would find young people together singing the songs of the day or old songs. Today you hear these infernal machines going night and day. We will not have a vocal cord left. The vocal cord will be eliminated by a process of evolution, as was the tail of man when he came from the ape."

Favorite Composers in Art - Sousa

Sousa gifts

You can find giftware with this image on sale at Zazzle.
- prints and cards
- mugs
- magnets
- bags
- T-shirts

Sousa mug
More Sousa gifts at zazzle

The Sousaphone
The Sousaphone is a kind of tuba designed to fit round the body and be supported by the left shoulder making it easier to be carried in a marching band.
It was developed in the 1890's by C.G.Conn to the wishes of Sousa.

You can find more about it at Wikipedia

(The Xbox game on the right is a spoof taking the micky out of the popular Guitar Hero video game.

The Gladiator - Cypress High School

Liberty Bell
used as the theme tune of Monty Python's Flying Circus!

Washington Post

Sempre Fidelis
The official march of the United States Marine Corps.

Links - where to go for more information

Answers.com collected reference sites including Wikipedia

Library of Congress

A John Philip Sousa site

Center for American Music the Sousa Archives

The Spanish American Civil War site a short biography

National Trapshooting Hall of Fame

The Experiences of a Bandmaster by John Pilip Sousa

New! Comments

Feel free to leave a comment. Thank you.

Custom Search

Sell Art Online