Thursday, July 26, 2012

Marvelous Coffee Table Book Celebrates John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa's America: The Patriot's Life in Images and Songs
by John Philip Sousa IV with Loras John Schissel
GIA Publications

The America of John Philip Sousa was a far different, and perhaps simpler, time than now, but there is little doubt that John Philip Sousa, as the Director of the United States Marine Band, as a composer of marches (leading him to become known as "The March King") and then leader of the Sousa Band, became one of the best-known Americans of his time and his music became a part of the fabric of the United States and still performed today including The Stars and Stripes Forever.

John Philip Sousa's America is a look at his life, mostly through a wealth of unpublished and rare photographs, newspaper clippings, caricatures, publicity stills, and other archival material that accompany the reflections of Sousa's great-grandson on the March King's life, from his upbringing in Washington DC through the Civil War, his marriage, his initial forays into march music and the remarkable career that ended with his death in 1932. It was a career that included tours across the United States and through Europe and Asia. He was also a recording star in the early days of musical recordings and alumni of his band included Arthur Pryor who had a successful career leading a similar band to Sousa's, and Meredith Willson, who brought us the classic Broadway musical, The Music Man. Today, his music is played world-wide, and not simply for Presidents.

In this narrative, Sousa's great-grandson is assisted by Lora John Schissel a senior musicologist at the Library of Congress. This is not a full scholarly biography of Sousa, but rather an affectionate look back at his remarkable life. This profusely illustrated book (hundreds of photos and illustrations) is a visual feast. Also included is a CD comprised mostly of performances of Sousa's music by the United States Marine Band with a brief spoken recording of Sousa, there is a recording by the Sousa Band performing The Stars and Stripes Forever. It is an invaluable addition to the literature on the music of the post-Civil War to World War I era, and part of musical environment from which jazz and modern popular music emerged out of.

I received a review copy of this book from a publicist. Here is a video of the United States Marine Band Performs The Stars and Stripes Forever.

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