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Celebrating John Philip Sousa's 160th Birthday

On this day in 1854, legendary marching band composer John Philip Sousa was born in Washington, D.C.

Today also happens to be the birthday of Here & Nows Robin Young, so to celebrate the dual occasion we listened to some Sousa favorites with longtime Sousa lover Keith Brion, founder and director of the New Sousa Band. He also happens to live next door to Robin Young in Cambridge, Mass.

According to Brion, “Harold Schonberg, who used to be a music critic for The New York Times, thought ['The Stars and Stripes Forever'] was the most perfect piece of American music ever written.”

“The Stars and Stripes Forever” was voted by Congress as America’s official National March.

Songs Heard In This Segment

  • Keith Brion and The New Sousa Band, “The Stars and Stripes Forever”
  • The Washington Winds, “The Washington Post March”
  • Keith Brion and The New Sousa Band, “Sabre and Spurs”
  • Keith Brion and the Central Band of the Royal Air Force, “The International Congress”
  • Keith Brion and The New Sousa Band, “The Free Lance”
  • Keith Brion and The New Sousa Band, “The Glory of the Yankee Navy”

Guest

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

John Philip Sousa-Leader of United States Marine Band, 1880-1892. Sousa in uniform of his civilian band, about 1921. (Courtesy of the United States Marine Corps.)
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John Philip Sousa-Leader of United States Marine Band, 1880-1892. Sousa in uniform of his civilian band, about 1921. (Courtesy of the United States Marine Corps.)