“The Stars and Stripes Forever”: Three Historic Recordings

John Philip Sousa’s most famous march was written on Christmas Day, 1896 during a transatlantic ocean liner voyage. Returning home from a European holiday, the composer had just learned of the death of his band’s manager, David Blakely. Sousa likely waited until he reached land to commit the actual notes to paper. But, according to his own account, the complete march entered his mind in a flash and continued to haunt him throughout …

Read more“The Stars and Stripes Forever”: Three Historic Recordings

Percy Grainger: Irish Tune from County Derry

I have vague, early childhood memories of hearing my dad play trombone in Dr. Harry Begian’s band at the University of Illinois. Begian, who passed away in 2010, was the University’s Director of Bands between 1970 and 1984. He favored the full, majestic “symphonic band” sound over the leaner sound of a wind ensemble. He recounted stories of sneaking into Detroit’s Symphony Hall as a child to watch the great “old school” maestros of …

Read morePercy Grainger: Irish Tune from County Derry

Remembering Composer Karel Husa

Karel Husa, the influential Czech-born composer and conductor, passed away last Wednesday. He was 95. Husa emigrated to the United States in 1954, became an American citizen a few years later, and served on the faculty of Cornell University for 38 years. His composition students included such illustrious names as Steven Stucky and Christopher Rouse. Music for Prague, 1968 remains Karel Husa’s best known work. It was a programmatic musical response to the 1968 Soviet military …

Read moreRemembering Composer Karel Husa

Happy Independence Day

John Philip Sousa’s marches embody qualities which are uniquely American. Listen to a British patriotic march like Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 and you’ll hear the slow, stately, majestic character of England. By contrast, Sousa’s marches are faster and more brash, reflecting the optimistic innocence of a young country just beginning to flex its muscles on the world stage. Sousa’s marches provide a musical snapshot of the spirit of America around …

Read moreHappy Independence Day

Send this to a friend