program notes by composition > W > With Pleasure

With Pleasure

John Philip Sousa/ed. by Loras Schissel

With Pleasure is a cakewalk-style fox-trot “dance hilarious” for band from Sousa’s operetta “The American Maid”. With its clever syncopated style, ragtime was an early form of jazz.

John Philip Sousa (1852-1932) was an American composer and conductor known particularly for military marches. He started playing the violin at the age of six and had absolute pitch. When Sousa reached the age of 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.

Sousa said a march ‘should make a man with a wooden leg step out’, and his surely did. However, he was no mere maker of marches, but an exceptionally inventive composer of over two hundred works, including symphonic poems, suites, songs and operettas created for both orchestra and band.

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. In the quarter century before radio, improved electronic records, and finally, the miracle of talking pictures, Sousa and his band and his music was America’s greatest musical attraction. He 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 January 1, 2013 by Palatine Concert Band