Patriotic Assembly Song of the Week "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" Samuel Francis Smith
"My Country, 'Tis of Thee", also known as "America", is an American patriotic song whose lyrics were written by Samuel Francis Smith. The melody used is the same for the national anthem of the United Kingdom, "God Save the Queen", arranged by the prominent English composer, Thomas Arne.
In 1831, Smith gave the lyrics to his musician friend, Lowell Mason, who arranged the song. It was first performed in public on July 4, 1831 at a children's Independence Day celebration in Boston. The first publication of "America" was in 1832. The song served as one of our national anthems until 1931, when "The Star-Spangled Banner" officially became the national anthem.
MONDAY Music Listening Example: "The Stars and Stripes Forever" (1896)
Much of the march music we listen to today at holidays and in parades can be contributed to John Phillip Sousa and his music contribution to our country. John Phillip Sousa was the first important American composer to write marches and patriotic music for concert and military bands. He is nicknamed "the March King". Sousa's most famous march is "The Stars and Stripes Forever", which is also the 'National March' of the United States of America.
Sousa wrote "The Stars and Stripes Forever" on a return trip from Europe. He was inspired by his homesickness and memories of the American flag flying over the White House. In 1897 it officially became the United States National March.
LISTEN FOR . . .
The upbeat tempo and catchy tune make this march easily recognizable.
The stressed notes add excitement to the music.
Marches typically contain several contrasting sections that will differ in loud and soft, brass or woodwinds, and melodic themes. Almost all have a musical "period" at the end, a punctuated accent.
TUESDAY Music Listening Example: "Washington Post March" (1889)
The "Washington Post March" is often used for troops on parade and other military events.
As a child, Sousa studied violin, music theory and music composition. His father enlisted his son in the United States Marine Band when he was 13 years old to keep him from joining a circus band. After leaving the band in 1875, Sousa learned to conduct. From 1880 until his death, he focused exclusively on conducting and writing music. He eventually rejoined the Marine Band and served there for 12 years as director.
Sheet music Single record
In 1889, a Washington, D.C. newspaper asked Sousa to compose a special march to be played at the awards ceremony for a children's essay contest the paper had sponsored. President Benjamin Harrison and a huge crowd attended the ceremony at the Smithsonian Institute. The music quickly became one of his most well-known works. The march and the newspaper have the same name: The Washington Post.
WEDNESDAY Music Listening Example: "The Thunderer" (1889)
The Sousa Band in 1893
Sousa led "The President's Own" band under five presidents, from Rutherford B. Hayes to Benjamin Harrison. Under his leadership, the band played at two presidential Inaugural Balls. He later organized his own band. The Sousa Band toured from 1892 to 1931, performing at 15,623 concerts both in America and around the world. Their performances include the World Exposition in Paris, France, where they marched through the streets to the Arc de Triomphe, one of only eight parades the band marched in over its forty years. Just think, Claude Debussy and other impressionists probably heard Sousa's music at the World Expo in Paris!
The Paris Exposition
The origin of the name "The Thunderer" is not officially known, though it is speculated that the name comes from the "pyrotechnic effects" of the drum and bugle in the music score. It is also one of Sousa's most famous and easy to perform marches. It was the election theme for ABC News from 1968 to 1972, and has been used in a Columbo TV series episode.
LISTEN FOR . . .
This piece follows the standard form of contrasting sections. The first two sections repeat. Can you can identify where one section end and the next begins? A A B B C D C D C
MUSIC LISTENING LINKS
Youtube video - "The Thunderer" played on a manual, hand-cranked calliope (2:45 min.) Youtube video - "The Thunderer" recorded in 1890 by the John Phillip Sousa Band with slideshow of pictures of the band. Old records often sound scratchy, as is the case in this recording. (2:20 min.) Youtube video - "The Thunderer" performed by the U.S. Ceremonial Band (3:00 min.)
Form - one of the five elements of music pertaining to the way the music is organized.
THURSDAY Music Listening Example: "El Capitan" (1896)
Sousaphones on a football field
Sousa was important in the design and development of an instrument that would become a standard for concert and marching bands--the sousaphone, also called the marching brass bass. He wanted a tuba that could sound upward and over the band whether its player was seated or marching. The sousaphone was created by J. W. Pepper, a Philadelphia instrument maker who used several of Sousa's suggestions in its design. The sousaphone was re-created in 1898 by C.G. Conn, another instrument maker. This was the model that Sousa preferred.
The first Conn sousaphone of 1898
Sousa and Opera? Our listening example, El Capitan is an operetta that has three acts. The piece was Sousa's first successful operetta and his most successful stage work. The march "El Capitan" became a standard work for brass bands and a crossover into other genres. It was first produced in Boston in 1896, where it transferred to the Old Broadway Theatre in New York City. The show ran for 112 performances. It then toured almost continuously for four years in the U.S. and Canada. Occasional modern performances continue today. The march of the same name contains different musical themes from the operetta.
John Phillip Sousa IV, great-grandson Sousa IV at age 9
The legacy of John Phillip Sousa continues on through his great-grandson, John Phillip Sousa IV. He lectures at concerts and patriotic events to share history about his great-grandfather, his music, and the impact he had on our American heritage. He also shares humorous stories about what it is like being the great-grandson of such an important person. He has asked the question: "Was Sousa America's first rock star?"
King Cotton is a military march Sousa composed in 1895 for the Cotton States and International Exposition of 1895. The expression "King Cotton" refers to the historically high importance of cotton as a cash crop in the southern United States. The tune was used as carousel music in the 1973 film, The Sting. It was also featured in the film The Adventures of Milo and Otis as background music. Another use was in "Emanuelle Goes to Dinosaur Land", an episode of the American TV show 30Rock.
Sousa's marches are heard at almost all patriotic celebrations. They are performed by school, community, professional and military bands. Sousa's music brings cheer and joy to millions of listeners around the world.
MUSIC LISTENING LINK
Youtube video - "King Cotton"The Oakleaf High School Wind Symphony performs John Philip Sousa's King Cotton, at the District 21 Concert Music Performance Assessment on March 7, 2015. The band rated 'Superior' at this assessment. (3:00 min)
SOCIAL STUDIES CONNECTION:
Our place of the week is the Taj Mahal in India. Listen to classical Indian music by Ravi Shankar, superstar of the Indian sitar.