Music Composers

Lt. John Philip Sousa-Part 2

Written by Lt. Comm. John Philip Sousa, U.S.N.R.F

When I was twelve or thirteen years old I was playing first violin in Ford's Opera House, Washington; and a traveling comic opera company came for a week's engagement. I took the first violin part of the opera we had been rehearsing to my teacher to mark some of the fingering and asked him if I would ever by able to write an opera. He smiled, and said, "Philip, you will write a better opera than this one"; and I have every reason to believe that since then a lot of people have agreed with him.

I was born in Washington, D.C.; and in my almost infancy Washington was an armed camp and there were regimental bands galore. During that period the ambition took possession of me to compose military music. The first march I wrote was played by the Marine Band of which years later I became conductor. I cannot recall any time in my life, from my very start as a student to the present moment, that i have ever given way to jealousy of either a fellow student or a fellow musician. Perhaps the main reason has been that I have always felt I could be a better student or a better musician; and, therefore, I was so busy improving my own knowledge that I have had no time to bother about the knowledge of another, unless in admiration. My career reads very much like a fairy story, for I desired to be a conductor of instrumental bodies and have been one for forty years; I desired to be a composer and I have been recognized as such for at least 35 years; I desired to go forth into all the corners of the world and conduct my own organization, and I have done so; and I believe I have toured over a greater expanse of territory than any other conductor; and possibly my compositions are as well known as those of any composer.

The Etude Magazine May 1921





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