THE MARCH ACROSS: When Sousa Took The Band Overseas


By Ken Zurski

SousaIn the spring of 1900, America’s foremost composer and conductor John Philip Sousa brought his large band to Europe. Sousa always dreamed of playing his patriotic marches overseas, but until the turn of the century no good opportunity presented itself. When the lavish Paris Exposition opened in 1889, Sousa was asked to attend. The following year on April 22,  a farewell concert took place at the New York Metropolitan Opera House. The next day, Sousa and his band, all sixty-three strong, set sail for France.

Sousa was already a celebrity, not just for his music but for his direction as well.  Born in 1854 in Washington D.C., of modest means, Sousa was the third of what would be ten siblings in all, although several died in infancy. Sousa’s father was a military man who played trombone in various bands. “I really believe he was the worst musician…

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