SOUSA, JOHN PHILIP

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This autograph will be auctioned live on May 23, 2018. For more information and to place your bid click the "BID NOW!" button above.
SOUSA, JOHN PHILIP - Handwritten letter from the American bandmaster and composer known as “The March King.”
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SOUSA, JOHN PHILIP - Handwritten letter from the American bandmaster and composer known as “The March King.”

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SOUSA, JOHN PHILIP. (1854-1932). American bandmaster and composer known as “The March King.” ALS. (“John Philip Sousa”). 1p. 8vo. Greensboro, February 27, 1922. On illustrated stationery of the William Foor Hotels. To “Mr. Cooke,” likely Sousa’s close friend, composer, author and publisher JAMES FRANCIS COOKE (1875-1960). Text is arranged in two side-by-side columns.

 

[Right column] “The song ‘Now You’re Married’ was sung to me by a gay lady, I took it down and incorporated in the piece, just about a week before I received yours. Thanks just the same for your trouble. [Left column:] My arm is getting stronger but not enough to raise it over a foot. The doctor says I must have patience, as I can’t help myself, I try to bear it, but I use a collection of sashes at times that would gladden the heart of the skipper of an ocean-going hack. Love to all. John Philip Sousa.”

 

“In his role as ‘March King’… Sousa became the most famous living American composer, and he remains unmatched as a writer of memorable band marches,” and from 1876 to 1931, he composed 136 such works (The New Grove Dictionary of American Music). However, despite being best known for his marches, “Sousa wrote many kinds of music, all in a lighter vein; he attempted neither concertos and symphonic works, nor operas and choral compositions, as did his contemporary and associate Victor Herbert. For a long time he hoped to write successful operettas, and he completed 12… Sousa was also a surprisingly prolific author, publishing three novels, more than 130 articles, the autobiography Marching Along (1928), a collection of epigrams, poems, and anecdotes entitled Through the Year with Sousa (1910). He even contributed to the brass instrumentarium; the sousaphone, a bass tuba with upright bell, was built to his specifications in the 1890s,” (ibid.) Our letter possibly refers to a light-hearted song he composed years earlier, in 1890, while conductor of the U.S. Marine Band, entitled “You’ll Miss Lots of Fun When You’re Married,” with lyrics by Edward M. Taber.

 

Sousa was a keen horseman who enjoyed trapshooting and long-distance treks on horseback. But the hobby nearly ended his career when, on September 6, 1921, he was thrown from his horse, cracking one of his vertebrae and injuring his shoulder. He spent two months recovering in bed after which he had only partial use of his left arm for the remaining decade of his life, a fact he kept largely hidden from the public, but humorously discusses in our letter “He could swing his arm to and fro but not outward from his body, severely handicapping his conducting style for the remainder of his career,” (John Philip Sousa: American Phenomenon, Bierley).

 

Sousa and Cooke became close friends after the latter interviewed the famed composer. He went on to publish some of Sousa’s works as president of the Theodore Presser Company, changed the name of March of the Mitten Men to Power and Glory – Fraternal March, thus aiding its success, and penned the lyrics to Sousa’s 1924 composition A Serenade in Seville. Cooke was himself a composer, author of a number of works about music, taught piano and voice, lectured on various musical subjects and was the president of the Philadelphia Music Teachers Association. Sousa was with Cooke two days before his death.  

 

Folded with a repaired closed tear. Normal wear with some browning on the verso and in very good condition.


This autograph will be auctioned live on May 23, 2018. For more information and to place your bid click the "BID NOW!" button above.
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