John Philip Sousa popularized the sousaphone, a lightweight tuba he helped create. Its portability makes it easier to carry by marching-band musicians performing at games and parades.
Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-110617
Strike Up the Band
John Philip Sousa is born in Washington, D.C.
Everyone loves a good march, especially one written by American conductor/composer John Philip Sousa. Sousa was musically gifted in several ways: He had perfect pitch, meaning that he could identify notes and chords without any external references (like a pitch pipe) to guide him, and he could play many instruments.
He is best known for composing 136 military and patriotic marches. Marches were once used to keep soldiers in line during maneuvers; the cymbals and others instruments were thought to have an intimidating psychological effect on the enemy. Sousa’s marches, however, primarily served to entertain listeners and inspire patriotic sentiments. His Stars and Stripes Forever, full of cymbal crashes and piccolo trills, is the official march of the United States.