University of Illinois’ Alma Mater Welcomes Flat Sousa to Campus

Elaine Li, University Bands Librarian, introduces Flat Sousa to the University’s Alma Mater

John Philip Sousa and the Sousa Band performed eleven times in Urbana, Illinois between February 8, 1908 and October 14, 1930, and nine of those concerts were held at the University of Illinois.  The other two concerts were performed at Urbana’s Illinois Theatre.   Through A. Austin Harding  the University of Illinois Band enjoyed a close personal and professional relationship with John Philip Sousa. In the 1920s Sousa dubbed the University of Illinois Band “the world’s greatest college concert band,” and on March 20, 1930 the Illinois band performed a concert with Sousa as its guest conductor.  During this performance Sousa dedicated his “University of Illinois March” to the institution’s faculty, students and alumni. After his death in March 1932 Sousa had his band’s entire performance library of original compositions bequeathed to the University because he believed Harding’s band was the only band in the country that he consider equal to his own band.

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