Known as the "March King," John Philip Sousa created the brass band music that set the tempo for America's red-blooded parade into the twentieth century. As director of the Marine Band from 1880 to 1892, and then of the Sousa Band from 1892 to the end of his life, Sousa sought to compose and perform music that would capture a "true American national air" to express "genuine American feeling," as he did in such marches as "Semper Fidelis" (1888), "The Washington Post March" (1889), and "Stars and Stripes Forever" (1897), and in the popular operetta El Capitan (1895). A brilliant showman, Sousa used his influence to help organize the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP) in 1914 to protect against copyright infringement. He also invented the sousaphone, a bass tuba with an upright bell.


  • Title: John Philip Sousa
  • Creator: Harry Franklin Waltman
  • Date Created: 1909
  • Physical Dimensions: w56.5 x h68.9 x d2.5 cm (Stretcher)
  • Type: Oil on canvas
  • Rights: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Sousa Corporation; Frame conserved with funds from the Smithsonian Women's Committee
  • External Link: https://npg.si.edu/portraits
  • Classification: Painting

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