Tag Archives: John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa, violinist

While the composer of iconic marches is famous for directing the U.S. Marine Band and his own world-famous ensembles, John Philip Sousa’s early life as a violin prodigy is relatively unknown.

A sickly child, Sousa was home-schooled, and from the age of six his studies included lessons with an Italian violin teacher. He showed tremendous promise, and his father, a trombonist in the Marine Band, enlisted him as a Marine apprentice when he was 13; there he studied academics and several instruments.

Sousa went on to play the violin in orchestras and chamber groups, where he developed a taste for cutting-edge art music that he never lost; for example, his band performed excerpts from Wagner’s Die Meistersinger ten years before the opera’s first U.S. production.

This according to “John Philip Sousa’s violin: An American original” by Erin Shrader (Strings XXV/4:187 [November 2010] pp. 53–56). Above, Sousa’s childhood violin before (background) and after it was restored by John Montgomery. Below, Sousa’s Band performs Carl Friedemann’s Slavonic rhapsody.

Related article: Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project

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Filed under Curiosities, Instruments, Popular music, Romantic era

Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project

An initiative of the Department of Special Collections of the Donald C. Davidson Library at the University of California at Santa Barbara, the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project presents digital remasters of nearly 8000 cylinders that are catalogued according to standard library rules for sound recordings. The collection may be searched by keyword, author, title, subject, year, or call number, or it can be browsed by genre, instrument, topic, or language. The recordings can all be heard and downloaded for free; the project is happy to receive donations of further recordings and financial support.

Among the collection’s rare gems are 225 recordings of pre-1902 popular music, including cylinders of Sousa’s Grand Concert Band.

Related article: John Philip Sousa, violinist


Filed under Popular music, Resources, World music