Interesting Facts and Information about John Philip Sousa

A tribute to John Philip Sousa written by A. Austin Harding and read at the Sousa Memorial Program, University of Illinois, on March 7, 1932

"In speaking of John Philip Sousa, I am conscious of my inability to express adequately the eulogy that is due the man and his accomplishments. I have a deep sense of personal loss, not only of a good friend but a great inspiration, which he was to all bandmasters and bandsmen. In the passing of Mr. Sousa not only the musical world, but the entire civilized world has lost a great figure.

Here at the University of Illinois we have a keen sense of a great loss that has come to us. Mr. Sousa evidenced many times his friendship for and his interest in the University of Illinois Bands. He wrote especially for, and dedicated to, the University the march that was played at the beginning of this program and which is used as the signature or identification theme for all of our radio programs. On March 20, 1930, Mr. Sousa did us the honor of accepting Honorary Conductorship of the University Concert Band. He has also indicated on several occasions that he was bequeathing his band library to the University of Illinois where it will remain intact as a permanent memorial and provide an inspiration to thousands of young musicians in the years to come.

In addition to his great musicianship, Mr. Sousa was blessed with a most charming and gracious personality. Every one who knew him loved him. One of the finest tributes to the man is the fact that he retained the friendship and respect of everyone who has ever worked with him or for him. Born in the shadows of the Capital in Washington, he has always been intensely patriotic and his famous march "The Stars and Stripes Forever" is regarded universally as the national march. Mr. Sousa was a man of many accomplishments and interests. His fame as a bandmaster was only exceeded by his popularity as a composer. This combination made him the most famous musician in the world. People in every corner of the Earth who may not have heard music in the higher and less understood forms are familiar with the Sousa marches.

In addition to these accomplishments he was an author, having written several novels, as well as librettos for some of his operas. He loved outdoor life and sports. He was an enthusiastic horsemen and a fine shot, having until the time of injury of his left arm, shot each year in the National Trap Shooting Contest. He was a valued member of prominent fraternal and civic organizations. During the First World War he put his prestige and reputation at the service of the government in organizing and personally directing the monster band assembled at the Great Lakes Station and was commissioned Lieutenant Commander in the United States Naval Reserves in recognition of that service to his country.

He generously contributed his time and energy to such worth-while projects as the National School Band Contests, the National Music Camp and the American Bandmasters Association, of which he was its Honorary Life President.

John Philip Sousa was a great and unique personality and his death has left a vacant niche that cannot, I believe, be filled by any living person."

Mr. Sousa's spaghetti recipe

Tomato sauce: one quart can of tomatoes; put in kettle on top of stove, simmer or let boil slowly for one and a half hours. Add pepper, salt, two onions cut in fine slices, four allspice and four cloves, the cloves and allspice to be added after it starts to boil. After one and a half hours add:

  • Pelotas (meat balls) – Two pounds chopped meat (beef, as hamburger steak). Add one onion chopped fine, one cup bread crumbs, a little parsley, salt and pepper. Make into meat balls about the size of a plum. Put into sauce and boil one and one-half hours slowly. This makes fully three hours’ slow boiling for the sauce.

  • Spaghetti – use a package or a pound of spaghetti (not macaroni). Have a large pot of boiling water with about one table-spoonful of salt. Slide the spaghetti into the water, Do not break it. Boil exactly twenty minutes. Must be tender, not tough, not doughy.

  • To sauce add three bay leaves one hour before taking off the stove. Serve spaghetti on large platter, pouring tomato sauce over it. Serve pelotas on smaller platter, allowing a small quantity of sauce to remain. Serve grated parmesan cheese on side. Use the piece of cheese to grate, not bottled cheese.

    "This serves from six to eight people and is my favorite dish," says Mr. Sousa.

    This recipe is taken from the July 23, 1916, edition of the Chicago Herald newspaper.

    The story of the origins of the sousaphone

    For many years there were claims and counter claims about who invented the Sousaphone. The conventional wisdom has held that the instrument was invented by the C.G. Conn company. Indeed, Conn instruments were in use by the Sousa band by 1898. In the course of researching the history of the Pepper company we have found reason to believe that the first bell upright, bass brass instrument was built by the J.W. Pepper Co. in 1893 and displayed at the industrial exhibt in Philadelphia of that same year.

    In an interview with John Philip Sousa the Christian Science Monitor of May 30, 1922 quoted him as follows: "...the Sousaphone received its name through a suggestion made by me to J.W. Pepper, the instrument manufacturer of Philadelphia, full 30 odd years ago. At that time, the United States Marine Band of Washington, D.C., of which I was conductor, used a BB-flat bass tuba of circular form known as a "Helicon". It was all right enough for street-parade work, but its tone was apt to shoot ahead too prominently and explosively to suite me for concert performances, so I spoke to Mr. Pepper relative to constructing a bass instrument in which the bell would turn upwards and be adjustable for concert purposes. He built one and, greatful(sic)to me for the suggestion, called it a Sousaphone. It was immediately taken up by other instrument makers, and is today manufactured in its greatest degree of perfection by the C.G. Conn Company..."

    John Philip Sousa and world events

    This timeline provides some historical context for national and world events that mosted impacted Sousa's life and music career. It is not intended to provide a detailed listing of his music performances. This information can be found within the Sousa Performance Timeline.