SOUSA: Music for Wind Band, Vol. 6 (Keith Brion/ Mike Purton/ Royal Artillery Band) (Naxos American Classics: 8.559132)
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John Philip Sousa (1854-1932)
Works for Wind Band, Volume 6
John Philip Sousa personified turn-of-the-century America, the comparative innocence and brash energy of a still new nation. His ever touring band represented America across the globe and brought music to hundreds of American towns. John Philip Sousa, born 6 November 1854, reached this exalted position with startling quickness. In 1880, at the age of 26, he became conductor of the U.S. Marine Band. In twelve years the vastly improved ensemble won high renown and Sousa's compositions earned him the title of "The March King." Sousa went one better with the formation of his own band in 1892, bringing world acclaim.
In its first seven years the band gave 3500 concerts; in an era of train and ship travel it logged over a million miles in nearly four decades. There were European tours in 1900, 1901, 1903, and 1905, and a world tour in 1910-11, the zenith of the band era.
The unprecedented popularity of the Sousa Band came at a time when few American orchestras existed. From the Civil War to about 1920, band concerts were the most important aspect of the U.S. musical life. No finer band than Sousa's was ever heard. Sousa modified the brass band by decreasing the brass and percussion instruments, increasing its woodwinds, and adding a harp. Sousa's conducting genius attracted the finest musicians, enabling him to build an ensemble capable of executing programs almost as varied as those of a symphony orchestra. The Sousa Band became the standard by which American bands were measured, causing a dramatic upgrading in quality nationally.
Sousa's compositions also spread his fame. Such marches as The Stars and Stripes Forever, El Capitan, Washington Post, and Semper Fidelis are universally acknowledged as the best of the genre. Sousa said a march "should make a man with a wooden leg step out," and his surely did. Although he standardized the march form as it is known today, he was no mere maker of marches, but an exceptionally inventive composer of over 200 works, including symphonic poems, suites, operas and operettas. His principles of instrumentation and tonal color influenced many classical composers. His robust, patriotic operettas of the 1890s helped introduce a truly native musical attitude in American theater.
The library of Sousa's Band contained over 10,000 titles. Among them are the numerous band compositions of Sousa including the marches and numerous other compositions. This new series, "Sousa: Works for Wind Band" seeks to record them for the world to hear.
[Track 1] Easter Monday on the White House Lawn (1928)
This sprightly ragtime piece was composed as a new final movement for Sousa's suite Tales of a Traveler, replacing the stately Coronation March with a lively piece more in keeping with a dynamic America in the roaring twenties.
 The Golden Star (1919)
Sousa's "memorial march", a funeral march, was dedicated to Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt, "in memory of the brave who gave their lives that liberty shall not perish." Sousa once said of the work "It will not be a monetary success. One cannot write from his heart and write for rewards. I was thinking of those fine young boys who will never return."
 Dauntless Battalion (1922)
Sousa composed this bright march to honor the parading cadets of Pennsylvania Military Academy.
 Sextet from The Bride Elect (1897)
This sextet, the finale of Act II from The Bride Elect, is extracted from Sousa's operetta about June brides and is modeled on the operatic sextet from Donizetti's Lucia Di Lamermoor. Sousa later arranged the music for brass sextet and often performed it with his band.
 The Federal (1910)
Composed for Sousa's tour around the world in 1911, this brilliant march was dedicated to the people of Australia and New Zealand.
- Three Quotations (1895)
Set in the form of a patrol, the opening movement The King of France is a satirical grand march. Sousa's "quotation" says "The King of France with twenty thousand men, marched up the hill and then marched down again." The second movement I, Too, Was Born in Arcadia is an essay on the gentle murmurings of pastoral life. The final movement, In Darkest Africa, is alive with the syncopations and rhythms of the black man's experience.
 Liberty Bell (1893)
Sousa and George Frederick Hinton, one of the band's managers, were in Chicago witnessing a spectacle called "America" when a backdrop, with a huge painting of the Liberty Bell was lowered. Hinton suggested that The Liberty Bell would be a good title for Sousa's new march. By coincidence, the next morning Sousa received a letter from his wife in which she told how their son had marched in his first parade in Philadelphia—a parade honoring the return of the Liberty Bell, which had been on tour. The new march was then christened The Liberty Bell. It was one of the first marches Sousa sold to the John Church Company and was the first composition to bring Sousa a substantial financial reward.
 The Gridiron Club (1926)
This march was dedicated to the Washington DC journalist's organization called the Gridiron Club. Sousa was a longstanding member of the organization, attending their yearly meetings for over forty years.
 La Reine de la Mer Waltzes (1886)
These waltzes were a favorite of Sousa's and were often performed by his band. La Reine de la Mer… "the Queen of the Sea", was in fact the wife of the secretary of the Navy during the time Sousa led the Marine Band.
 The Chariot Race (1890)
Based on a fictional story by Lew Wallace which then became a popular play on Broadway in 1889, Sousa's wild and vivid depiction of a Roman chariot race predates many modern film scores.
 The Gladiator (1886)
When he heard this march performed by an organ grinder on the streets of Philadelphia, Sousa realized to his great delight that one of his compositions had finally achieved widespread popularity.
 New Mexico (1928)
Sousa's unusual New Mexico March was composed at the request of New Mexico's governor, R.C. Dillon. The march mirrors the ethnic origins of the state, blending Spanish, Indian and American materials. The state song Oh Fair New Mexico is adapted as the concluding trio.
 The Picador (1889)
Sousa had a great love for Spanish music. His Picador March portrays the grandeur and drama of the bullfight.
Program notes by Keith Brion are freely based on material taken from The Works of John Philip Sousa, Integrity Press with the express permission of the author, Paul E. Bierley. Not