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New Sousa Exhibit Opens Today

The Center’s new exhibit, “John Philip Sousa — America’s Legacy through his Music” opens today, and presents many of the March King’s original hand-written full scores that are rarely seen by the general public.  Sousa (1854-1932) is one of America’s most recognized composers and bandleaders, and much of his music reflects his unflagging patriotism and musical response to major national and international events that affected the country during his lifetime.  He wrote over 336 original compositions, and arranged and transcribed an additional 322 works, many of which he produced while on his band’s numerous tours.

Sousa was not only the creator of America’s most recognized marches, but also a master of grand theatrical entertainment through them.  He is credited with transforming the simple repetitive da capo form of early march melodies into much more dramatic trio forms.  His most popular marches – The Stars and Stripes Forever, The Liberty Bell, and the Invincible Eagle – reflect these changes in style, where dramatic contrasts between woodwind solos and energetic low-brass ritornellos give way to rousing lyrical finales that always energized concert audiences.

This exhibit of original scores highlights some of these composition techniques used by Sousa, and documents the historical events that inspired the March King to craft these works.  For further information about this exhibit email the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music at sousa@illinois.edu.

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