November 6, 1854: John Philip Sousa is born at 636 G Street SE in Washington, DC, USA, third of ten children (only six surviving infancy) born to John Antonio Sousa, a Portuguese immigrant and trombonist in the US Marine Band, and Marie Elisabeth Trinkaus, an immigrant from Bavaria where her father was a small town mayor.
June 9, 1868: John Philip Sousa (13) is enlisted as an apprentice in the United States Marine Corps band in Washington by his father.
December 31, 1871: John Philip Sousa (17) and several other boys are discharged from their contracts with the US Marine Corps band.
July 8, 1872: Six months after being discharged, John Philip Sousa (17) reenlists in the US Marine Corps and rejoins its band.
February 20, 1879: The new Amateur Opera Company gives its inaugural performance, in the Newsboys' Home in Philadelphia, directed by John Philip Sousa (24).
December 30, 1879: John Philip Sousa (25) marries Jane van Middlesworth Bellis, the daughter of a carpenter, at her home in Philadelphia.
October 1, 1880: John Philip Sousa (25) enlists in the United States Marine Corps for the third time, in order to accept the position of leader of the Marine band. He is the 17th leader of the band and the first native born.
January 1, 1881: The United States Marine Band makes its first public appearance under its new leader, Warrant Officer John Philip Sousa (26), at a reception at the White House.
March 2, 1881: The Wolverine March by John Philip Sousa (26) is performed for the first time, in Washington.
March 4, 1881: James Abram Garfield replaces Rutherford Birchard Hayes as President of the United States. At the inauguration ceremony, President Garfield’s Inauguration March by John Philip Sousa (26) is performed for the first time. The 47th Congress of the United States convenes in Washington. Garfield’s Republican Party takes control of the House of Representatives while the parties are evenly divided in the Senate.
October 17, 1881: Yorktown Centennial, a march by John Philip Sousa (26), is performed for the first time, in Washington, directed by the composer. It celebrates the 100th anniversary of the American victory at Yorktown.
March 25, 1882: The Smugglers, an operetta by John Philip Sousa (27) to words of Vance after Burnand, is performed for the first time, in Lincoln Hall, Washington.
April 19, 1883: The Transit of Venus, a march by John Philip Sousa (28), is performed for the first time, in Washington, conducted by the composer.
May 1, 1884: Désirée, an operetta by John Philip Sousa (29) to words of Taber after Morton, is performed for the first time, at the National Theatre, Washington.
September 27, 1884: The Intaglio Waltzes for band by John Philip Sousa (29) is performed for the first time, at the White House in Washington.
April 12, 1886: The Queen of Hearts, an operetta by John Philip Sousa (31) to words of Taber, is performed for the first time, in Albaugh’s Opera House, Washington.
March 4, 1889: Benjamin Harrison replaces Grover Cleveland as President of the United States. As the Marine Band reaches the reviewing stand in the inaugural parade, it gives the first performance of Semper fidelis, a march by the band’s director, John Philip Sousa (34). The 51st Congress of the United States convenes in Washington. President Harrison’s Republican Party holds majorities in both houses.
June 15, 1889: The Washington Post, a march by John Philip Sousa (34), is performed for the first time, at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington.
October 18, 1889: US Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Tracy orders the director of the Marine Band, John Philip Sousa (34), to collect the "National and Patriotic airs of all Nations" for use on official occasions.
December 13, 1890: The Chariot Race from Ben Hur for band by John Philip Sousa (36) is performed for the first time, at the Philadelphia Academy of Music.
December 12, 1891: Sheridan's Ride for band by John Philip Sousa (37) is performed for the first time, in Philadelphia.
June 27, 1892: John Philip Sousa (37) signs a contract with band manager David Blakely to direct a new, civilian concert band.
July 29, 1892: A testimonial concert for John Philip Sousa (37) takes place in the National Theatre, Washington. His new march, The Belle of Chicago, is premiered.
July 30, 1892: A farewell concert for John Philip Sousa (37) takes place on the White House lawn, attended by President Benjamin Harrison. Despite the rain, a large crowd attends. Sousa is presented with an engraved baton by the Marine Band, and after the festivities, Sousa receives his discharge from the Marines.
August 1, 1892: John Philip Sousa’s (37) contract with manager David Blakely goes into effect. He will direct a new, civilian concert band.
September 12, 1892: John Philip Sousa (37) holds the first rehearsal of his new civilian band, in New York.
September 26, 1892: The new Sousa Band, led by John Philip Sousa (37), presents its inaugural concert, at Stillman Music Hall in Plainfield, New Jersey.
March 10, 1895: The John Philip Sousa (40) band makes its first recording, on cylinders. Sousa, unimpressed by recording technology, is not in attendance.
April 13, 1896: El Capitan, an operetta by John Philip Sousa (41) to words of Klein, is performed for the first time, in the Tremont Theatre, Boston.
November 2, 1896: David Blakely, John Philip Sousa’s (41) business partner, dies suddenly in New York. Sousa is currently in Italy on vacation.
November 25, 1896: John Philip Sousa (42) and his wife arrive in New York from Europe aboard the SS Teutonic. He has cut his vacation short to deal with the death of his partner David Blakely. During his return trip, Sousa conceived of The Stars and Stripes Forever. "Throughout the whole tense voyage, that imaginary band continued to unfold the same themes, echoing and re-echoing the most distinct melody. I did not transfer a note of that music to paper while I was on the staemer, but when we reached shore, I set down the measures that my rain-band had been playing for me, and not a note of it has ever been changed." (Tick, Beaudoin, 284)
December 25, 1896: John Philip Sousa (42) completes the piano score to The Stars and Stripes Forever in New York.
April 8, 1897: John Philip Sousa (42) directs the Sousa Band in the last performance arranged by his business partner, David Blakely, who died last November. Sousa considers his contract with Blakely now terminated and stops splitting profits with Blakely’s heirs. Mrs. Blakely will take him to court and, after three years of litigation, will largely fail.
April 10, 1897: A bill of complaint is filed in Philadelphia against John Philip Sousa (42) by the widow of his business partner David Blakely. She claims that the contract between Sousa and Blakely is still in force and applies to Blakely’s heirs.
May 1, 1897: A new march by John Philip Sousa (42) is performed for the first time, in Augusta, Maine by the Sousa band. Sousa tells a reporter that this new march does not yet have a name. There is good reason to believe that this is The Stars and Stripes Forever. See 14 May 1897.
May 14, 1897: The Stars and Stripes Forever, John Philip Sousa’s (42) most famous march, is performed officially for the first time, in Philadelphia at the unveiling of a statue of George Washington. It is a spectacular success. See 1 May 1897.
December 28, 1897: The Bride Elect, an operetta by John Philip Sousa (43) to his own words, is performed for the first time, in the Hyperion Theatre, New Haven, Connecticut.
May 5, 1898: The John Philip Sousa (43) band escorts Troop A of the Ohio National Guard as it departs Cleveland for the war against Spain.
August 29, 1898: The Charlatan, an operetta by John Philip Sousa (43) to words of Klein, is performed for the first time, at the Academy of Music, Montreal.
April 21, 1899: Hands Across the Sea, a march by John Philip Sousa (44), is performed for the first time, at the Philadelphia Academy of Music.
September 30, 1899: A victory parade for Admiral George Dewey takes place in New York. Taking part is the band led by John Philip Sousa (44) who play the El Capitan march.
October 23, 1899: Chris and the Wonderful Lamp, an operetta by John Philip Sousa (44) to words of MacDonough, is performed for the first time, in the Hyperion Theatre, New Haven, Connecticut.
April 25, 1900: The 61-piece John Philip Sousa (45) band departs New York aboard the St. Paul heading for Southampton on its first foreign tour. An overseas tour was planned for 1898 but was cancelled due to the war.
July 4, 1900: John Philip Sousa (45) directs his band in the first performance of his march Hail to the Spirit of Liberty at the unveiling of a statue to Lafayette in Paris.
September 8, 1900: The John Philip Sousa (45) band returns to New York after a four-month tour of Europe.
October 8, 1900: The Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania gives a final decision in the case of John Philip Sousa (45) and the heirs of David Blakely. Sousa’s contract with Blakely ended with the latter’s death in November 1896. However, since the tour of 1896-97 had been contracted by Blakely, one-half of the profits go to his heirs. All music published by Sousa and Blakely belongs to them jointly and Blakely’s heirs are entitled to one-half of the royalties.
October 4, 1901: John Philip Sousa (46) and his band arrive in London for their second tour of Great Britain.
December 1, 1901: The Sousa (47) Band appears in a command performance before the British royal family at Sandringham. He requests permission of King Edward to dedicate a march to him. The request is granted. See 21 May 1902.
May 21, 1902: Imperial Edward, a march by John Philip Sousa (47), is performed for the first time, in Montreal. The march is dedicated to King Edward VII of Great Britain.
June 25, 1903: Jack Tar, a march by John Philip Sousa (48), is performed for the first time, by five massed bands and the Queen’s Hall orchestra, before the royal couple and the Prince and Princess of Wales in Albert Hall, London. Audience members wave little Union Jacks.
March 26, 1906: The Free Lance, an operetta by John Philip Sousa (51) to words of Smith, is performed for the first time, at the Court Square Theatre in Springfield, Massachusetts.
September 28, 1908: The Fairest of the Fair, a march by John Philip Sousa (53), is performed for the first time, at the Boston Food Fair.
July 1, 1909: The United States Copyright Law comes into effect. It grants “exclusive rights to composers and/or publishers to print, publish, copy, vend, arrange, record by means of a gramophone or any other mechanical device, and perform publicly for profit original musical compositions, and affording protection against infringement for a period of 28 years and a renewal period of the same length. The act was championed by John Philip Sousa (54) and Victor Herbert (50).
December 24, 1910: John Philip Sousa (56) and his band sail from New York for Britain at the start of a world tour.
December 9, 1911: After almost a year abroad, the John Philip Sousa (57) band plays the last concert of its world tour at the New York Hippodrome.
January 27, 1913: The American Maid, an operetta by John Philip Sousa (58) to words of Liebling, is performed for the first time, at the Schubert Theatre in Rochester, New York.
September 30, 1915: The John Philip Sousa (60) band begins the longest engagement of its existence, 35 weeks at the Hippodrome in New York.
February 22, 1916: America First, a march by John Philip Sousa (61), is performed for the first time, simultaneously in the New York Hippodrome and in Washington, to celebrate the birthday of George Washington.
June 3, 1916: The John Philip Sousa (51) band concludes its 35-week engagement at the Hippodrome, New York. 40,000 people have seen the last four concerts, breaking attendance records for that venue.
May 31, 1917: John Philip Sousa (62) enlists in the US Naval Reserve and is given the rank of Lieutenant. He is the first US Navy musician to receive a commission.
March 3, 1918: The Volunteers, a march by John Philip Sousa (63), is performed for the first time, at the New York Hippodrome.
March 10, 1918: We Are Coming, a song for voice and band by John Philip Sousa (63) to words of Linn, is performed for the first time, at the New York Hippodrome.
November 10, 1918: John Philip Sousa (64) leads his band in Toronto as part of a campaign to aid the Victory Loans of Canada. With so many amputee veterans in attendance, Sousa calls it one of the most moving experiences of his life.
January 5, 1920: In Winston-Salem, North Carolina, two-thirds of the John Philip Sousa (65) band strike over poor hotel accommodations. Only 19 of 57 members play in a matinee performance. All the strikers are sacked.
November 5, 1922: The Gallant Seventh, a march by John Philip Sousa, is performed for the first time, at the New York Hippodrome, on the eve of the composer’s 68th birthday. Composed in honor of a regiment of the New York National Guard, it was created while the composer recuperated from a broken neck.
November 26, 1923: John Philip Sousa (69) is awarded an honorary doctorate from Marquette University.
February 12, 1924: “An experiment in modern music” takes place in Aeolian Hall, New York when Rhapsody in Blue for piano and jazz band by George Gershwin (25) is performed for the first time, the composer at the piano. Among the overflow audience is Ernest Bloch (43), Sergey Rakhmaninov (50), John Philip Sousa (69), Walter Damrosch, Willem Mengelberg, Leopold Stokowski, Jascha Heifetz, Fritz Kreisler, Mary Garden, John McCormack, and Leopold Godowsky. Critics are strongly divided, but the Whiteman band (who plays today) will perform the Rhapsody 84 times in 1924 alone. Also on the program is the premiere of Suite of Serenades for orchestra by Victor Herbert (65). This is the last appearance of Herbert as composer.
April 17, 1924: A delegation from ASCAP, including Victor Herbert (65), John Philip Sousa (69), and Irving Berlin, testify before a congressional committee considering a bill to allow radio broadcasters to use copyrighted music without paying the composers. Sousa remarks, “The Radio Corporation of America gets money, doesn’t it? If they get money out of my tunes, I want some of it, that’s all.” (Waters, 547)
May 28, 1924: A funeral procession in memory of Victor Herbert proceeds from the ASCAP offices at 56 West 45th Street, New York, down Fifth Avenue to St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church for an elaborate service. The body is then transported to Woodlawn Cemetery. Honorary pallbearers include John Philip Sousa (69), George Gershwin (25), and Jerome Kern.
October 17, 1925: The Black Horse Troop, a march by John Philip Sousa (70), is performed for the first time, in Cleveland.
July 29, 1928: Golden Jubilee, a march by John Philip Sousa (73), is performed for the first time, at the steel pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It was written to mark the composer’s 50th year as a conductor.
May 6, 1929: The John Philip Sousa (74) band makes its first radio broadcast, sponsored by General Motors.
June 17, 1929: University of Illinois, a march by John Philip Sousa (74), is performed for the first time.
April 26, 1930: The Royal Welsh Fusiliers no.2, a march by John Philip Sousa (75), is performed for the first time, in the Willard Hotel, Washington, at a dinner attended by President Hoover.
May 16, 1930: The Salvation Army, a march by John Philip Sousa (75), is performed for the first time, in New York in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Salvation Army in the United States.
June 25, 1930: John Philip Sousa (75) presents the score to his Royal Welsh Fusiliers march to the organization after whom it is named.
November 21, 1930: Proclaimed John Philip Sousa Day by the mayor of Philadelphia, Sousa (76) directs the 52-member Philadelphia Harmonica Band in his new march, Harmonica Wizard.
July 26, 1931: The Northern Pines, a march by John Philip Sousa (76), is performed for the first time, at Interlochen, Michigan.
September 8, 1931: The John Philip Sousa (76) band plays its last concert, at the Steel Pier, Atlantic City, New Jersey.
December 10, 1931: The Circumnavigators Club, a march by John Philip Sousa (77), is performed for the first time, at the annual meeting of its namesake in New York. The composer is a member.
February 22, 1932: John Philip Sousa (77) conducts the combined band of the Navy, Army, and Marine Corps in front of the Capitol Building in Washington in the first performance of his George Washington Bicentennial march, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Washington’s birth.
February 27, 1932: John Philip Sousa (77) conducts the US Marine Band in his Hands Across the Sea march in Washington. It is his last public performance.
March 6, 1932: 01:30 John Philip Sousa dies of acute cardiac failure in his room at the Abrahm Lincoln Hotel in Reading, Pennsylvania, USA, aged 77 years and four months.
March 8, 1932: The mortal remains of John Philip Sousa lie in state, accompanied by an honor guard at the Marine Barracks in Washington.
March 10, 1932: A short funeral service in memory of John Philip Sousa takes place in the Marine Band Auditorium in Washington. The service is broadcast over the airwaves of the Columbia Broadcasting System. A military procession leads to the Congressional Cemetery, thousands lining the route, where his earthly remains are laid to rest.