07 Mar George Washington Bicentennial March
George Washington Bicentennial March – John Philip Sousa (1854- 1932) remained active as both a composer and conductor to the very end of his life and wrote several superb marches in 1930 and 1931. A special commission was formed in Washington, D.C., in 1930 to coordinate the upcoming national celebration of the two-hundredth anniversary of George Washington’s birth, and Sousa was engaged to compose a special march for the occasion. He completed the score to the George Washington Bicentennial March in June of that year, and while on tour with his Sousa Band in November, he made a stop in Washington, D.C., to conduct a preview of the new march with the U.S. Marine Band for President Herbert Hoover and his guests in front of the White House. The Sousa Band continued to perform the march on its 1930 and 1931 tours before the actual bicentennial in 1932. Sousa himself took part in the climactic ceremony held at the Capitol Plaza on February 22, 1932, where he conducted the combined premier bands of the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. This would be the last time he would conduct the Marine Band in public. Just a few weeks later, after finishing a rehearsal in preparation for a concert with the famed Ringgold Band of Reading, Pennsylvania, Sousa unexpectedly passed away on March 6, 1932.
Program Notes compiled by Marcie Phelan