The Beau Ideal: John Philip Sousa Becomes An American Musical Icon *Bonus Class*
Provider: John Connors – Music Historian
John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) is known as “The March King” for having composed over 136 marches during his life, but it was his reach as a conductor, bandleader, and showman for nearly 60 years, as well as his infectious performance style that captured the national attention and made his name a household word. The expression “beau ideal” was used in the early 1890’s to describe anything that had caught the public fancy, and this is certainly an apt nickname for Sousa as much as his more well-known moniker. During the period of 1880-1900, Sousa went from directing the Marine Band in Washington D.C., to traveling across the country playing thousands of concerts every year with his own professional touring concert band. This session will focus on Sousa’s activities during one of the most important periods in his life and explore how he was able to achieve a level of fame in his time akin to Ed Sheeran, U2, Madonna, and Michael Jackson, all in the days before TikTok, YouTube, the internet, and even television and radio. And most importantly, we’ll listen to some of his most popular marches written at this time, such as The Washington Post, Semper Fidelis, and The Stars and Stripes Forever!
John Connors has loved the music of John Philip Sousa his entire life. In his full-time profession, he has the opportunity to perform marches by Sousa and other band music as a trombone player in the United States Army. He has been in the Ohio Army National Guard since 2007 and serves full-time as the Readiness NCO of the 122nd Army Band of Columbus. Outside of the Army, John performs as a freelance musician around the state and region with a variety of ensembles and is an avid musician in the Civil War living history hobby. He is also Associate Conductor of the Medina Community Band of Medina, Ohio, a group which specializes in performing Sousa’s music and has been honored by the John Philip Sousa Foundation as a Sudler Silver Scroll Historic Certificate recipient band in 2015.
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