Who was John Philip Sousa? What did he think about music, politics, and the world? This collection of newspaper articles, letters, and interviews by Sousa and his contemporaries give us a greater understanding of this iconic figure in American music.
Sousa was opinionated and frank, yet also thoughtful, nuanced, and full of keen wit and a colorful sense of humor. While he existed largely in the popular sphere from the public’s perspective, he saw himself firmly in the classical lineage that included Wagner and the greats. He was a Teddy Roosevelt-like figure for the musical world: a brash, self-confident American leading the nation to a bright future through innovation and capitalism.
Lionized across the country and occasionally embroiled in controversy, Sousa was also an entertaining writer. This irresistible gathering includes Sousa’s satirical argument against recorded music, his testimony to Congress about international copyright law, how he built his “ideal band,” patriotism and nationalism in music, the pleasures of making music, and even a recipe for spaghetti. Band directors and enthusiasts, fans of Sousa’s toe-tapping marches, and music historians will find this user-friendly collection a rare delight.
It is to the editor’s credit that this volume is more than a simple collection of Sousa’s
writings. The most valuable part of this book is the author’s commentary (always in italics) and his added footnotes. With regard to this volume: Bully for Proksch!
Mark Fonder, Ithaca College, USA | Journal of Historical Research in Music Education 2018, Vol. 39