The John Church Company, [Theodore Presser Co., Distributors, Philadelphia], 1897. Presumed First Edition, First printing thus. Sheet Music. Format is 9.25 inches by 12.25 inches. 6 pages, pages 3/4 laid in. Some wear and soiling. Front cover has an image of Sousa in the upper left corner. John Philip Sousa (November 6, 1854 – March 6, 1932) was an American composer and conductor of the late Romantic era known primarily for American military marches. He is known as "The March King" or the "American March King", to distinguish him from his British counterpart Kenneth J. Alford. Among his best-known marches are "The Stars and Stripes Forever" (National March of the United States of America), "Semper Fidelis" (official march of the United States Marine Corps), "The Liberty Bell", "The Thunderer", and "The Washington Post". Sousa began his career playing violin and studying music theory and composition under John Esputa and George Felix Benkert. His father enlisted him in the United States Marine Band as an apprentice in 1868. He left the band in 1875, and performed as a violinist and learned to conduct. In 1880 he rejoined the Marine Band, and he served there for 12 years as director, after which he organized his own band. From 1880 until his death, he focused exclusively on conducting and writing music. Sousa aided in the development of the sousaphone, a large brass instrument similar to the helicon and tuba. Upon the outbreak of World War I, Sousa was awarded a wartime commission of lieutenant commander to lead the Naval Reserve Band in Illinois. He then returned to conduct the Sousa Band until his death in 1932. In the 1920s, he was promoted to the permanent rank of lieutenant commander in the naval reserve. "The Stars and Stripes Forever" is a patriotic American march written and composed by John Philip Sousa. By a 1987 act of the U.S. Congress, it is the official National March of the United States of America. In his autobiography, Marching Along, Sousa wrote that he composed the march on Christmas Day, 1896. He was onboard an ocean liner on his way home from a vacation with his wife in Europe and had just learned of the recent death of David Blakely, the manager of the Sousa Band. He composed the march in his head and committed the notes to paper on arrival in the United States. It was first performed at Willow Grove Park, just outside Philadelphia, on May 14, 1897, and was immediately greeted with enthusiasm. "The Stars and Stripes Forever" follows the standard U.S. military march form—of repeated phrasing of different melodies performed in sections called strains: a Sousa legacy. Performances vary according to the arrangements of individual band directors or orchestrators, especially regarding tempo and the number and sequence of strains employed. A typical performance of the march begins with the four-bar introduction, following with the first strain, which is repeated; then the second strain, which is also repeated; and sometimes both are repeated again if (the band is) marching in parade (or the breakstrain may be interjected and repeated). Now follows the dominant woodwinds in the first run of the famous Trio strain—familiar to many for the nonsense lyrics: "Be kind to your web-footed friends..."—which repeats, and later repeats again as the piccolos obligato. (Here, in some performances, Sousa's patriotic lyrics may be sung in a choral overlay.) Then follows the breakstrain, the final strain, and the breakstrain repeated. The final repeats of the Trio (the Grandioso) render the famous obligato of the piccolo players — joined to a subdued but prominent countermelody by the brass section, then bringing everything to a close with once-more repeats of the grand finale. Sousa explained to the press that the three themes of the final trio were intended to represent the three regions of the United States. The broad melody, or main theme, portrays the North. The South is represented by the famous piccolo obligato, and the West by the bold countermelody of the trombones. The three come together in the climax, representing the Union itself. John Church, Jr. established the company in 1859, and after taking partners into the firm, he incorporated it in 1885. The John Church Company published large amounts of sheet music by composers such as John Philip Sousa and Grace Chadbourne. By the late 1870s, John Church Company was the largest music publishing house in Ohio, and one of the largest in the United States. Condition: Good.
Keywords: Stars and Stripes, American Flag, Patriotic Music, March, Sheet Music, Performing Arts, National March