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John Philip Sousa

Bandleader / Composer

Born: 6 November 1854
Died: 6 March 1932
Birthplace: Washington, D.C.
Best known as: The guy who wrote "Stars and Stripes Forever"
"March King" John Philip Sousa was the most famous band leader in the United States during his lifetime, a former U.S. Marine Band leader who composed and conducted some of the most well-known marches in the world. His professional career began as a violinist in travelling orchestras, but his first fame came as the leader of the U.S. Marine Band from 1880 until 1892. Sousa composed the official song of the Marine Corps, "Semper Fidelis" at the request of President Chester A. Arthur (who was looking for a song to replace "Hail to the Chief," or so the story goes). In 1892 he started a civilian band that became internationally famous and hugely popular (in 1910 they toured the world). The band was known especially for marches that Sousa composed, notably "Stars and Stripes Forever," designated in 1987 as the National March of the United States.
Extra credit: Sousa also wrote operas and other pieces of music, as well as novels and poetry... In 1917 he enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve (at the age of 62) because of World War I.

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