program notes by composition > T > The Thunderer

The Thunderer

John Philip Sousa/arr. Keith Brion and Loras Schissel

The Thunderer march was dedicated to Columbia Commandery No. 2 of the Knights Templar, an international philanthropic order affiliated with Freemasonry.

John Philip Sousa (1854–1932) was a legendary composer and conductor known particularly for military marches. He started playing the violin at the age of six and had absolute pitch. When he reached 13, his father, a trombonist in the United States Marine Band, enlisted him as an apprentice. Sousa served a seven-year term then rejoined the Marines a few years later as Bandmaster. He resigned from the Marines in 1892 to form a civilian band of his own which quickly attracted the finest players and gained a tremendous reputation.

Superb programming was a hallmark of Sousa’s phenomenally successful forty years of band touring. He pleasingly packaged classical standards and orchestral treatments of popular fare, establishing a standard style reflected today in the pops concerts of American symphony orchestras. The principal commodity Sousa sold, however, was pride in America and American music. Sousa and his band personified the innocent energy of turn-of-the-century America, bringing classical music to hundreds of towns and representing America across the globe.

Last updated on April 17, 2015 by Palatine Concert Band