About this Piece
John Philip Sousa (1854-1932); arr. Morton Gould (1913-1996)
Length: 5 minutes
Orchestration: piccolo, 2 flutes (both =
piccolo), 2 oboes, English horn, 3 clarinets, 3 bassoons (3rd = contrabassoon), 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion (including snare drum), and six pianos
First Los Angeles Philharmonic
Although John Philip Sousa began his musical studies on the violin under his father's guidance, he soon became proficient on wind instruments - so much so that he was playing in the Marine Band by the time he was 13 years old. A few years later he could be found leading a vaudeville orchestra in Washington, D.C., and in 1880 he returned to the Marine Band as its new director. Twelve years later he resigned and formed his own band, which became famous around the world thanks to Sousa's inspired marches. In addition to 135 marches, Sousa composed 70 songs, a number of operettas, and suites and fantasies for band. Royalties from sheet music sales made Sousa rich, and he took every opportunity to expand his market. As an example, Sousa wrote lyrics for The Stars and Stripes Forever so that he could sell the popular march as a song.
Another child prodigy, the multifariously talented Morton Gould wrote his first compositions at the age of six. He studied at the Institute of Musical Art in New York and throughout his teen years gave piano recitals, in which improvisation on themes suggested by the audience usually played a part.
Gould created orchestral scores for various media and genres, including Broadway musicals (Billion Dollar Baby), ballets (Fall River Legend), films (Windjammer), and television (Holocaust). His skill as a piano improviser and his great love of American music came together (not for the first time) in his freewheeling adaptation of The Stars and Stripes Forever.
- John Henken is the Philharmonic's Director of Publications.