Contact: Helen Dalrymple, (202) 707-1940
Listen to the march.

May 7, 2003

Library of Congress March, Based on Sousa Manuscripts, Premieres on May 6

Performance by Virginia Grand Military Band Is a Surprise for Library Supporter and Philanthropist John W. Kluge

"The Library of Congress March," performed for the first time at a special tribute to John W. Kluge at the Library of Congress, is a bit of American history brought to life. Based on manuscript sketches and orchestrations from the Library's John Philip Sousa Collection, this new work was reconstructed by Stephen Bulla, a leading American composer and arranger of concert band music, under the supervision of Sousa authority Loras John Schissel. It was the last work Sousa began and remained incomplete -- largely in details, not in overall conception -- at the time of his death in 1932.

Following the May 6 performance, attended by John Philip Sousa IV, the great-grandson of the conductor, the newly reborn march will be performed by the historic band Sousa himself conducted, "The President's Own," the United States Marine Band. It will also be published -- to be heard on bandstands across the nation -- on the Library of Congress Web site.

An American musical icon and an important ambassador for American culture, John Philip Sousa -- "The March King" -- is remembered as the greatest of American band masters, whose famous work, "The Stars and Stripes Forever," is perhaps America's best-known musical composition, recognized officially by Congress as the National March of the United States of America in 1987. Sousa was also an important, and prolific composer of operettas, including "El Capitan" and "The Glassblowers"; 12 symphonic suites; songs, piano music and programmatic pieces like "Sheridan's Ride" and "The Last Days of Pompeii."

A native Washingtonian who was born on Capitol Hill in 1854, John Philip Sousa was the son of a musician in the Marine Band, was enlisted himself at the age of 13, and became the band's leader in 1880. Sousa's long professional association with the Library of Congress began at that time, with his scholarly research in the extensive collections of the Library's Music Division for projects that included the transcription of Native American Indian tunes and the compilation and publication of his "National, Patriotic and Typical Airs of All Lands."

At the time of World War I, Sousa worked closely with Oscar Sonneck, then the chief of the Music Division, to establish a standardized version of "The Star-Spangled Banner." After leaving the Marine Band in 1892, John Philip Sousa founded his own superb Sousa Band, which toured annually for more than 40 years. During its existence Sousa conducted 15,498 concerts throughout the United States, Europe, and, in 1911, around the world.

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PR 03-085
05/07/03
ISSN 0731-3527

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