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Tag Archives: 1890s

Washington, D.C. native and legendary bandmaster John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) wrote a dozen operettas, six full-length operas, and over 100 marches, earning the title “March King”.  He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at an early age and went on to become the conductor of the President’s Own Marine Band at age 26.  In 1892 he formed “Sousa and his Band”, which toured the United States and the world under his directorship for the next forty years to great acclaim.  Not only was Sousa’s band hugely popular, but it also exposed audiences all over the world to the latest, cutting-edge music, bringing excerpts of Wagner’s Parsifal to New York a decade before the Metropolitan Opera staged it, and introducing ragtime to Europe, helping to spark many a composer’s interest in American music.

From the Oklahoma City University Band Program Note Archive:

Hands Across the Sea was composed in 1899 and premiered during the same year at the Philadelphia Academy of Music.  Although a number of ideas have been presented concerning the title, Paul Bierley believes that Sousa was inspired by a line credited to John Hookham Frere:  “A sudden thought strikes me — let us swear an eternal friendship.”  In the Great Lakes Recruit of March 1918, Sousa discussed the justification of the Spanish-American War, quoted Frere’s line, and added, “That almost immediately suggested the title Hands Across the Sea.  Sousa’s music and his musicians had the ability to affect people in many lands.  Extensive European tours were made by Sousa’s band between 1900 and 1905.  In December 1910, a world voyage was begun, which included England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Canary Islands, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji Islands, the Hawaiian Islands, Canada, and the United States.  The tour lasted one year, one month, and one week.

You can find out more about Hands Across the Sea at Wikipedia and Classical Archives.  You can also download free, public domain sheet music at the IMSLP (piano score and another recording) and the Band Music PDF Library (full set of parts).

Read more about the Sousa Band and its history at naxosdirect.com. Click the link that says “Read more about this recording.”

Sousa shrine – including biography, complete works, and much more – at the Dallas Wind Symphony website.

John Philip Sousa on Wikipedia

Hands Across the Sea performed by an anonymous band:

The Library of Congress has this recording of Sousa’s band playing the piece in 1923.

Hands Across the Sea shares its title with a play by Noël Coward and several nonprofit groups.

Hands Across the Sea is a senior choice for Sam Alexander ’13, trombonist and co-leader of Making Music Matter.

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Washington, D.C. native and legendary bandmaster John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) wrote a dozen operettas, six full-length operas, and over 100 marches, earning the title “March King”.  He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at an early age and went on to become the conductor of the President’s Own Marine Band at age 26.  In 1892 he formed “Sousa and his Band”, which toured the United States and the world under his directorship for the next forty years to great acclaim.  Not only was Sousa’s band hugely popular, but it also exposed audiences all over the world to the latest, cutting-edge music, bringing excerpts of Wagner’s Parsifal to New York a decade before the Metropolitan Opera staged it, and introducing ragtime to Europe, helping to spark many a composer’s interest in American music.

Here are some well-researched program notes on Stars & stripes from the Band Music PDF Library.

Stars and Stripes Forever (march) is considered the finest march ever written, and the same time one of the most patriotic ever conceived.  As reported in the Philedelphia Public Ledger (May 15, 1897) “… It is stirring enough to rouse the American eagle from his crag, and set him to shriek exultantly while he hurls his arrows at the aurora borealis.” (referring to the concert the Sousa Band gave the previous day at the Academy of Music). (Research done by Elizabeth Hartman, head of the music department, Free Library of Philadelphia.  [Quote] taken from John Philip Sousa, Descriptive Catalog of his Works (Paul E. Bierley, University of Illinois Press, 1973, page 71)).

The march was not quite so well received though and actually got an over average rating for a new Sousa march.  Yet, its popularity grew as Mr. Sousa used it during the Spanish-American War as a concert closer.  Coupled with his Trooping of the Colors, the march quickly gained a vigorous response from audiences and critics alike.  In fact, audiences rose from their chairs when the march was played.  Mr. Sousa added to the entertainment value of the march by having the piccolo(s) line up in front of the band for the final trio, and then added the trumpets and trombones [to] join them on the final repeat of the strain.

The march was performed on almost all of Mr. Sousa’s concerts and always drew tears to the eyes of the audience.  The author has noted the same emotional response of audiences to the march today.  The march has been named as the national march of the United States.

There are two commentaries of how the march was inspired.  The first came as the result of an interview on Mr. Sousa’s patriotism.  According to Mr. Sousa, the march was written with the inspiration of God.

“I was in Europe and I got a cablegram that my manager was dead.  I was in Italy and I wished to get home as soon as possible.  I rushed to Genoa, then to Paris and to England and sailed for America.  On board the steamer as I walked miles up and down the deck, back and forth, a mental band was playing ‘Stars and Stripes Forever.’ Day after day as i walked it persisted in crashing into my very soul.  I wrote in on Christmas Day, 1896.” (Taken from program notes for the week beginning August 19th, 1923.  Bierley, John Philip Sousa, page 71.)

Researched by Marcus L. Neiman, Medina, Ohio

 

The wikipedia article on Stars & Stripes is bit thin on references, but it does allow you to listen to a vintage recording of Sousa himself conducting the march, from 1909.  The Stars & Stripes page at the Dallas Wind Symphony has other old recordings and Sousa’s original lyrics for the march.

Read more about the Sousa Band and its history at naxosdirect.com. Click the link that says “Read more about this recording.”

Sousa shrine – including biography, complete works, and much more – at the Dallas Wind Symphony website.

John Philip Sousa on Wikipedia

Stars & Stripes is one of many Sousa marches (and other pieces by turn of the 19th-20th century composers) available at the Band Music PDF Library for free.  I encourage any enterprising band directors to take a look.

Check out this legit performance of Stars & Stripes, courtesy of the President’s Own United States Marine Band.  If you don’t like the conductor’s very informative monologue, skip to the performance at around 1:00.

Now, the Muppets’ take on Stars & Stripes:

Finally, an inspiring trombone choir version:

CFW 2013 band directors: click here for free, printable parts for the massed band.

Washington, D.C. native and legendary bandmaster John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) wrote a dozen operettas, six full-length operas, and over 100 marches, earning the title “March King”.  He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at an early age and went on to become the conductor of the President’s Own Marine Band at age 26.  In 1892 he formed “Sousa and his Band”, which toured the United States and the world under his directorship for the next forty years to great acclaim.  Not only was Sousa’s band hugely popular, but it also exposed audiences all over the world to the latest, cutting-edge music, bringing excerpts of Wagner’s Parsifal to New York a decade before the Metropolitan Opera staged it, and introducing ragtime to Europe, helping to spark many a composer’s interest in American music.

Sousa originally wrote Liberty Bell in 1893.  It features the chimes, perhaps in homage to the famous American landmark after which it is named.  The march is now most famous for its use as the theme song to Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

The march as used in the opening of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the 1970s British comedy show:

Now here it is in full played by the US Marine Band, complete with a short explanation of the piece by their conductor:

As played by the Rutgers Euphonium Choir:

Program notes on the march from the Concord (MA) Band.

A wealth of information on the Liberty Bell itself, famous crack and all.

Sousa shrine – including biography, complete works, and much more – at the Dallas Wind Symphony website.

Charles Ives (1874-1954) was a composer and businessman from Danbury, Connecticut. He never made his living from his compositions, instead making a fortune in life insurance.  The unusual nature of this dual life paralleled his music, which not only defied but brazenly toppled the conventions of his era.  For instance, it is at times bitonal, often disjointed, and occassionally reflects the sound of two musical ensembles playing at the same time at a distance from each other. Ives’s music was largely ignored by all but a precious few fans during his lifetime.  However, his receipt of the Pulitzer Prize in 1947 for his Symphony no. 3 made the music world begin to take him seriously.  He has posthumously attained a reputation as among the finest of all American composers of all time.

Ives scholar Jan Swafford summarizes Ives’s influence and importance thusly:

For all his singularity, the Yankee maverick Charles Ives is among the most representative of American artists. Optimistic, idealistic, fiercely democratic, he unified the voice of the American people with the forms and traditions of European classical music. The result, in his most far-reaching work, is like nothing ever imagined before him: music at once unique and as familiar as a tune whistled in childhood, music that can conjure up the pandemonium of a small-town Fourth of July or the quiet of a New England church, music of visionary spirituality built from the humblest materials–an old gospel hymn, a patriotic tune, a sentimental parlor song. The way in which Ives pursued his goal of a democratic art, and his career of creating at the highest level of ambition while making a fortune in the life insurance business, perhaps could only have happened in the United States. And perhaps only there could such an isolated, paradoxical figure make himself into a major artist.

This is just the beginning of Swafford’s fabulous short biographical essay on Ives, which can be found here.

Swafford’s essay is just a taste of the treasure trove of information available at the Charles Ives Society website.

More on Ives from Wikipedia.

Biography with a link to an essay about the influence of Ives’s father, George, a local bandmaster.

One more biographical essay from essentialsofmusic.com

Ives wrote Variations on America at age 17 when he was the organist for a local church.  Despite its early origin, it still contains many characteristics of the Ives sound: unapologetic bitonality, themes of patriotism, some sense of playfulness and optimism.  American composer and Lincoln Center president William Schuman transcribed the original organ work for orchestra in 1962, after which it was transcribed for band in short order by William Rhoads.

A concise program note on the orchestral version.

The University of Michigan Concert Band plays Variations on America.

The original organ version performed by flamboyant organ virtuoso Virgil Fox:

CFW 2012 Band Directors: CLICK HERE for free, printable parts.

Washington, D.C. native and legendary bandmaster John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) wrote a dozen operettas, six full-length operas, and over 100 marches, earning the title “March King”.  He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at an early age and went on to become the conductor of the President’s Own Marine Band at age 26.  In 1892 he formed “Sousa and his Band”, which toured the United States and the world under his directorship for the next forty years to great acclaim.  Not only was Sousa’s band hugely popular, but it also exposed audiences all over the world to the latest, cutting-edge music, bringing excerpts of Wagner’s Parsifal to New York a decade before the Metropolitan Opera staged it, and introducing ragtime to Europe, helping to spark many a composer’s interest in American music.

Marcus L. Neiman at the Band Music PDF Library writes about King Cotton:

King Cotton (march) was published in 1895 by the John Church Company and assigned to the Theodore Presser Company in 1939. It is a curious fact of the music world that marches written for fairs and expositions almost always fade into oblivion. Two notable exceptions are Mr. Sousa’s King Cotton and The Fairest of the Fair. The former was written for the Cotton States and International Exposition of 1895, and the latter for the Boston Food Fair of 1908.

Mr. Sousa and his band had great drawing power at fairs and expositions and were much sought after. But, officials of the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta attempted to cancel their three-week contract with the Sousa Band because of serious financial difficulties. At Mr. Sousa’s insistence, they honored the contract, and at the first concert they became aware of their shortsightedness. Atlanta newspapers carried rave reviews of the band’s performance. For example:

… The band is a mascot. It has pulled many expositions out of financial ruts. It actually saved the Midwinter Fair in San Francisco. Recently at the St. Louis and Dallas expositions Sousa’s Band proved an extraordinary musical attention, and played before enormous audiences. It is safe to predict that history will repeat itself in Atlanta, and that the band will do the Exposition immense good. A great many people in South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia have postponed their visit to the Exposition so as to be here during Sousa’s engagement, and these people will now begin to pour in.

Sousa’s latest march, “King Cotton,” has proved a winner. It has been heard from one end of Dixie to the other and has aroused great enthusiasm and proved a fine advertisement for the Exposition.

The Sousa Band did indeed bring the exposition “out of the red,” and the same officials who had tried to cancel Sousa’s engagement pleaded with him to extend it. King Cotton was named the official march of the exposition, and it has since become one of the perennial Sousa favorites.

Read more about the Sousa Band and its history at naxosdirect.com. Click the link that says “Read more about this recording.”

Sousa shrine – including biography, complete works, and much more – at the Dallas Wind Symphony website.

John Philip Sousa on Wikipedia

King Cotton is one of many Sousa marches (and other pieces by turn of the 19th-20th century composers) available at the Band Music PDF Library for free.  I encourage any enterprising band directors to take a look.

Watch (OK, really just listen to) a great performance of King Cotton:

Sir Arthur Sullivan indeed composed the music that is in this piece.  However, he had been dead 50 years at the time of Pineapple Poll‘s genesis.  This idea came about in 1950 due to copyright law: Sullivan died in 1900, and so in 1950 his music became public domain.  However, Sir William Gilbert, his serpent-tongued lyricist partner, died several year later, so his portion of the famous Gilbert and Sullivan work was still under copyright.  This necessitated that any use of the Gilbert and Sullivan material be purely instrumental.  And so it was, in the form of the ballet Pineapple Poll.  Sir Charles Mackerras took pieces of the existing material wholesale and essentially stitched it together in different forms to create the ballet music.  To create a story for the ballet, choreographer John Cranko referred to Gilbert’s poem “The Bumboat Woman’s Story”, one of his early, satirical Bab Ballads.  In it, an old woman tells the story of falling in love with a sea captain, then dressing as a man to follow him to sea, only to find the rest of the crew had done exactly the same thing.  The band suite, arranged for wind instruments by W. J. Duthoit, appeared in 1952 as no. 768 in Chappell’s Army Journal, a serial subscription service for new band music.

Note: the “Poll” of the title is pronounced like the first syllable of the name “Polly”, for which it is short.  It is not like North Pole.

More on Gilbert & Sullivan at wikipedia.

The Gilbert & Sullivan Archive – a must-see for fans of the duo.

The Bumboat Woman’s Story in full, basis for Pineapple Poll‘s plot.

More information about the original ballet on wikipedia.

Now some videos.   First, the band suite in 2 parts as performed by Stetson University Symphonic Band:

Finally, a segment of the ballet which features some of the material that made it into the third movement of the band suite:


French composer Paul Dukas (1865-1935) was one of the leading orchestrators and composition teachers of his day.  He studied at the Paris Conservatory where he became friends with fellow composer Claude Debussy.  He wrote prolifically for piano, orchestra, and the opera stage, but his perfectionist tendencies led him to destroy or withdraw many of his works.

Dukas’s L’apprenti sorcier (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) is one of those iconic pieces that it seems like everyone knows, largely thanks to Disney’s treatment of it in Mickey Mouse’s segment of 1940’s Fantasia.  It was a hit with orchestras and bands even before the mouse got hold of it.  Dukas wrote the original orchestral piece in 1897, and Frank Winterbottom created the band version in 1923 for Boosey & Hawkes.  It is based on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s poem of the same name (Der Zauberlehrling in Goethe’s native German).  The story of the poem was replicated very closely in the Fantasia segment.  In it, the sorcerer’s apprentice gleefully brings a broom to life to draw a bath for him while his master has stepped out.  Once the bath is full, he realizes he does not know the magic that will stop the broom.  In an ever-wetter panic, he hacks the broom in 2 with an axe, only to have both pieces come back to life and continue the deluge of water.  Out of options, he seeks his master’s help and all is once again right with the world.

The famous Disney version is edited in several places.  But luckily for us, the Koninklijke Harmoniekapel Delft (a Dutch wind band) has put together a video that uses the Fantasia footage and puts all of the original material back in.  AND it’s the same band version that we’re playing!  Watch:

To compare, here’s a Japanese orchestra under the baton of Vladimir Ashkenazy doing the unedited version with no mouse:

Paul Dukas on Wikipedia.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice on Wikipedia.

Goethe’s original poem in side-by-side original German and English translation.

This piece is a Senior Choice for clarinetist and world traveler Alicia Samuel, CUWE class of 2011.

Finally, I fully admit that I’m purposely making no mention of the new-ish live-action Sorcerer’s Apprentice movie.  I fail to see what Nicholas Cage can add to this discussion.