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Meet Amazing Americans Musicians & Composers John Philip Sousa
Cover of score for Stars and Stripes Forever
Cover of score for Stars and Stripes Forever

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Sousa Band performing "The Stars and Stripes forever"

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The Stars and Stripes Forever

"The Stars and Stripes Forever." It's the official march of the United States and it's John Philip Sousa's most famous composition. You've probably heard it before, even if you don't know it by name.

All of his life, John Philip Sousa loved music and loved America, so it's no surprise that he wrote this patriotic classic. Sousa grew up in Washington, D.C., during the Civil War. As a kid, he enjoyed hearing the Civil War military bands that filled the streets of Washington as well as the sounds of his father's trombone. His father played in the U.S. Marine Band and Sousa quickly followed in his footsteps. Sousa first enlisted in the Marine Band as an apprentice violinist and later became the bandleader. When Sousa wasn't playing with a band, he was writing music, like "The Stars and Stripes Forever." By the 1890s he had written enough popular marches to be nicknamed the "March King."

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CREDIT: John Philip Sousa, “Stars and Stripes Forever,” published in Cincinnati, Ohio, 1898. Reproduction No.: Music B-367; Repository: Rare Book, Manuscript and Special Collections Library, Duke University. This item is not in the Library of Congress collections. For additional information about reproductions, contact the Rare Book, Manuscript and Special Collections Library of Duke University.)
AUDIO CREDIT: Sousa, John Philip (author) Sousa's Band (performer) . "Stars and stripes forever." [United States]: E. Berliner's Gramophone , [189-]. Emile Berliner and the Birth of the Recording Industry from the Library of Congress.