John Philip Sousa Ragtime

admin 11/23/2021

John Philip Sousa led a remarkable life. This is a brief timeline of the major events.

  1. Even as it was being rejected by the American populace, the unique energy and syncopated rhythms of ragtime was influencing classical composers in Europe. In the early 1900’s, French composers Claude Debussy and Erik Satie. 8: John Philip Sousa – “The March King”.
  2. John Philip Sousa (/ ˈsuːsə /; 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.
  3. Alternative Title: The March King John Philip Sousa, byname The March King, (born November 6, 1854, Washington, D.C., U.S.—died March 6, 1932, Reading, Pennsylvania), American bandmaster and composer of military marches.

It was John Philip Sousa who brought Ragtime to Europe with his famous band. This attempt to bring the music of Ragtime America to Europe was extremely well received and caused a great stir in musical circles of Europe.


Born, November 6th

John Philip was 3rd of 10 children of John Antonio Sousa (born in Spain of Portuguese parents) and Maria Elisabeth Trinkhaus (born in Bavaria). John Philip’s father, Antonio, played trombone in the U.S. Marine band. He grew up around military band music.


Begins Musical Studies

Began musical study around age six, studying voice, violin, piano, flute, cornet, baritone, trombone and alto horn.


Joins Marines

His father enlisted him in the Marines at age 13 as an apprentice after he attempted to run away to join a circus band.


1st Published Composition

“Moonlight on the Potomac Waltzes”.


Leaves Marines

Discharged from Marines. Began performing (on violin), touring and eventually conducting theater orchestras. Conducted Gilbert & Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore on Broadway.



In February, met Jane van Middlesworth Bellis during Pinafore rehearsals; they were married December 30.


Returns to Marine Band

Returned to Washington in September to assume leadership of the US Marine Band.


Conducts Marine Band

Conducted “The President’s Own”, serving under presidents Hayes, Garfield, Cleveland, Arthur and Harrison. After two successful but limited tours with the Marine Band in 1891 and 1892, promoter David Blakely convinced Sousa to resign and organize a civilian concert band.

John philip sousa ragtime songs1892

Sousa's Band Formed

The first Sousa Band concert was performed September 26 at Stillman Music Hall in Plainfield, New Jersey. Two days earlier, bandleader Patrick Gilmore had died in St. Louis. Nineteen of Gilmore’s former musicians eventually joined Sousa’s band, including Herbert L. Clarke (cornet) and E. A. Lefebre (saxophone). The original name of the band was “Sousa’s New Marine Band”, but criticism from Washington forced the withdrawal of the name.


El Capitan Opens

Sousa’s first successful operetta, El Capitan, debuts.


The Stars and Stripes Forever

Sousa’s promoter David Blakely dies while Sousa and his wife are on vacation in Europe. On the return voyage, Sousa receives the inspiration for The Stars and Stripes Forever.


World Tour

New York, Great Britain, Canary Islands, South-Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji Islands, Hawaii, Canada.


Sousa Joins Navy

During World War I, Sousa joins the US Naval Reserve at age 62. He is assigned the rank of lieutenant and paid a salary of $1 per month.


Resumes Touring

After the war, Sousa continued to tour with his band. He championed the cause of music education, received several honorary degrees and fought for composers’ rights, testifying before Congress in 1927 and 1928.


Sousa Dies

Sousa dies at age 77 on March 6th, after conducting a rehearsal of the Ringgold Band in Reading, Pennsylvania. The last piece he conducted was “The Stars and Stripes Forever”.

For a more detailed timeline of Sousa’s life, visit the John Philip Sousa Timeline at the Library of Congress website.

Brass Band Festival announces 2021 music lineup

Published 4:30 pm Thursday, April 15, 2021


News release

The musical lineup has been set for the 2021 Great American Brass Band Festival in historic downtown Danville and Weisiger Park, June 11-12. Several fan favorites are set to return, as well as a slew of faces new to the festival.


The Todd Hill Orchestra presented by Whitaker Bank returns to headline the 2021 music lineup on Saturday, June 12. The eighteen-member Todd Hill Orchestra has been entertaining audiences for over 35 years! Shows feature the orchestra’s star soloists on swinging jazz standards, along with the piano and vocal talents of their leader, playing big band hits of Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington and many more. Their high-energy performances combined with light banter results in joyous listening, tapping toes, and many return engagements.


Matt Hightower, assistant professor of Tuba/Euphonium at the University of Kentucky, will be featured as the 2021 soloist, performing in the afternoon with the 202nd Army Band. Hightower is a professional tubist, and his performance experience covers a wide range of chamber, orchestral and solo music that spans three continents and nine countries. He is a prizewinner of international solo competitions and has presented master classes to tuba/euphonium students around the world. He earned a bachelor of music degree in music education from Murray State University, a master of music degree in tuba performance from Indiana University, and a doctor of musical arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin. He is also an award-winning composer, as well as a B&S performing artist.

A festival favorite, the Storyville Stompers from New Orleans, will return again this year and will perform in the parade as well as on the main stage on Saturday afternoon.

Scott Kirby will return to the festival after several years to delight the GABBF audience with his lively jazz and ragtime piano performances. His repertoire includes works by such artists as Scott Joplin, John Philip Sousa and Jelly Roll Morton, to name a few, as well as original pieces.

As previously mentioned, the 202nd Army Band of the Kentucky National Guard out of Frankfort will also return for their 23rd year at the festival. The host band of the festival, Danville’s own Advocate Brass Band, will welcome everyone to our town once again, playing in both the parade and on the Main Stage on Saturday evening.

The North American Brass Band Association (NABBA) is an organization dedicated to the promotion and development of the British-style brass band in North America. There has long been a relationship between the Great American Brass Band Festival and NABBA, and this year as a special treat the festival will play host to several NABBA member bands: the Cincinnati Brass Band led by Dr. Benjamin Chamberlain, Five Lakes Silver Band directed by Christopher Ward, Motor City Brass Band under the baton of Craig Strain, and the Saint Louis Brass Band conducted by Dr. John Bell.

Local favorite, “rock n soul with horns” band, PowerPlay, will perform on Friday, June 11 from 8–10 p.m. during a Gallery Hop After-Hours Concert in Weisiger Park, which is presented by the festival. During this event, GABBF encourages patrons to order takeout from downtown restaurants and enjoy dinner in the park while enjoying the free live music. Draft beer will be sold during the After-Hours Concert, with proceeds directly supporting the festival.

The Walnut Street Ramblers will also return to provide music for the Great American Swing Dance on Friday, June 11 from 6:30–8 pm at the Boyle County Public Library.

Band performance times will be released shortly. Stay tuned to as more information becomes available.

Full weekend event schedule

John Philip Sousa Ragtime Musical

Friday, June 11

Downtown Gallery Hop: 5:30-8 p.m.

Sponsor Reception: 6–8 p.m.

Great American Swing Dance: 6:30-8 p.m. (Boyle County Public Library)

Gallery Hop After-Hours Concert: 8-10 p.m. (Weisiger Park)

Saturday, June 12

Run for the Brass 5k: 8 a.m. (Millennium Park)

Yoga in the Park: 8:30 a.m. (Constitution Square)

John Philip Sousa Ragtime Dance

Main Street Parade: 11 a.m.

John Philip Sousa Ragtime Music

Great American Brass Band Festival Main Stage Music: 12-10 p.m. (Weisiger Park)

Trails Alliance has trail connections, more inclusive playgrounds in the works

John Philip Sousa Music

The Danville City Commission unanimously approved the acceptance of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Grant the city applied for... read more

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