As Michael Francis conducts Pacific Symphony in its first performances of Elgar’s Symphony No. 1 this weekend, I thought it would be a good time to share this historical film of Elgar himself conducting the “Pomp and Circumstance” March No. 1.
The occasion is the opening of the Abbey Road Studios in London on November 12, 1931. The words of Elgar at the beginning: “Good morning gentlemen. Glad to see you all. Very light program this morning. Please play this tune as though you’ve never heard it before.”
As mentioned in my previous post on Sousa, the United States Marine Band is currently immersed in creating a new edition of all of the marches, in chronological order. Not only are the band’s recordings available for free downloading, but the scores and parts are too. Listen below to the Marine Band’s new recording of the march, follow along with the piccolo part and enjoy the single greatest countermelody in all of Sousa.
John Philip Sousa in front of a marching band in 1914.
By TIMOTHY MANGAN
Summer is upon us and that means that, as Americans, at some point in the next few months most of us will hear a Sousa march. The Pacific Symphony alone has four of them on its schedule. Richard Kaufman will lead the well known trio of marches, “The Washington Post,” “Semper Fidelis” and “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” on July 4, and later in the month, in three Symphony in the Cities concerts, Carl St.Clair will present “Hands Across the Sea” and, again, “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”
Across the country, most if not all other classical music ensembles and concert bands that present outdoor concerts will also perform Sousa. Lots of people will hear Sousa marches. One can’t say for sure how many of those people will actually listen to them — Sousa is taken for granted, these days — but they’ll hear them.
John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) was a remarkable man and a remarkable musician. In his day, he was one of the most famous people in the country, and plenty famous outside of it too. He was a novelist, a composer of operettas, a champion trapshooter (he’s in the trapshooting hall of fame), a founding member (along with Victor Herbert and Irving Berlin) of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, the developer of the sousaphone, a showman. He was best known, though, for his band — the Sousa Band toured the country and the world and gave 15,623 concerts between 1892-1931— and for his marches. He was dubbed, of course, “The March King.”