Press "Enter" to skip to content


by Jari Villanueva
©2021 Jari Villanueva

Among the 137 marches composed by John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) can be found some of the most stirring music ever written by an American composer. Sousa defined the “American” march form with its distinctive sound and construction. His output of marches began in 1873 with his composition “Review” and ended with his “Library of Congress” written, but left unfinished, shortly before his death. Sousa’s music epitomized the American spirit and his marches are played around the world by school and university ensembles, community bands, symphony orchestras, brass bands, military organizations and all types of musical groups.

HERE IS PART 2 of the article

*Thanks to the “President’s Own” United States Marine Band for their wonderful videos

The Marches

In order to put the Sousa marches that use bugle calls or marches in historic context here are the musical compositions to be discussed in chronological order.

Yorktown’s Centennial March, 1881
Four Marches for Regimental Trumpets and Drums, 1884
“A Book of Instruction for the Field-Trumpet and Drum”, 1886
Semper Fidelis, 1888
The Thunderer, 1889
Reveille. Poem by Robert J. Burdette, 1890
March of the Royal Trumpets, 1892
Boy Scouts of America, 1916
The Naval Reserve, 1917
The Chantyman’s March, 1918
Bullets and Bayonets, 1918
Flags of Freedom, 1918
Sabre and Spurs, 1918
Anchor and Star, 1918
The Golden Star, 1919
Who’s Who In Navy Blue, 1920
The Gallant Seventh, 1922
Black Horse Troop, 1924
Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, 1924
Riders For The Flag, 1926
The Minnesota March, 1927
New Mexico, 1928
Royal Welsh Fusilers, 1930
The Aviators, 1931

To Col. H.C. Corbin, U.S.A., Master of Ceremonies, Yorktown Centennial Commission.

Uses a M1879 Trumpet in F

This was one of Sousa’s first marches written after assuming the leadership of the United States Marine Band. This 8-bar phrase appears in the middle of the Trio strain instead of standing alone. It is in the key of F

A printing of Sousa’s Yorktown Centennial March was issued in 1900 as “Sen Sen.” This was part of a promotion scheme of the T. B. Dunn Company of Rochester, New York, a subsidiary of the Sen Sen Chiclet Company. It is not known whether or not Sousa was part of this business venture. Sen-Sen was a type of breath freshener originally markete as a “breath perfume” in the late 19th century by Dunn and then produced by F&F Foods until the product’s discontinuation in July 2013. Sen-Sen bore a strong resemblance to Vigroids, a liquorice sweet made by Ernest Jackson & Company, Ltd. Sen-Sens were available in small packets or cardboard boxes. Similar to a matchbox of the time, an inner box slid out from a cardboard sleeve revealing a small hole from which the tiny Sen-Sen squares would fall when the box was shaken.

There’s a reference to Sen-Sen in Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man”-“And bragging ’bout how they’re gonna cover up a tell-tale breath with sen-sen.”


These short selections were published by Sousa’s publisher, Harry Coleman of Philadelphia. There are three duets and one unison selection. All four include a snare drum part. The drum part is not a typical drum cadence, rather a part that reflects the rhythmic pattern of the trumpet. There is no indication of what instrument is to be used but since the M1879 F trumpet was the standard instrument, it can be assumed that was the horn employed.

Harry Coleman published Sousa’s early marches and made quite a tidy profit off marches such as Washington Post and Semper Fidelis for which Sousa received $35 each.

What is music?
Sounds pleasing to the ear, either in succession or in combination.
-J.P. Sousa, 1886


This126 page manual, originally published by Carl Fischer, is divided into sections:
Rudiments of Music
The Field Trumpet
The Side Drum
The Roll
Exercises For The Drum
Trumpet And Drum Signals
Boats’ Calls
Marches For Drum-Corps
Sousa wrote this manual to help improve the performance of field music which at that time consisted of bugles and drums owing to the discontinuation of fifes in the Marine Corps. Sousa wrote an accompanying drum part to each of the calls citing “…obvious advantages in the combination of the two, in preference to the employment of the trumpet alone.” The drum parts were written with the assistance of Mr. F. W. Lusby, Drum Instructor, USMC. Mr. Lubsy more than likely was responsible for the drum exercises.

Of interest are the seven marches and a waltz for field trumpet and drums. There are also two marches for drum corps
They are written for one, two and three trumpets.

1. Gallant and Gay We’ll March Away.
2. Good Bye, Sweet Nannie Magee.
3. Let’s Hurrah! We Are Almost There.
4. Hannah, My Own True Love.
5. Here’s Your Health, Sir!
6. With Steady Step.
7. Funeral March.

Two of the marches (“Here’s Your Health, Sir!” and “With Steady Step”) were incorporated into “The Thunderer” and “Semper Fidelis” respectively.
There is no indication of what instrument is to be used but since the M1879 F trumpet was the standard instrument, it can be assumed that was the horn employed.


Uses a M18979 Trumpet in F
To the Officers and Men of the United States Marine Corps.  Uses a Navy/Marine Corps field trumpet in F developed by Rudolph Wurlitzer, Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1874 with a narrow cylindrical bore and a German flugel horn bell.

Of all the marches Sousa wrote this is one of the most famous. This march was written at the behest of President Chester A. Arthur. Arthur had asked about “Hail to the Chief” which was used a music to introduce the president. When informed by Sousa that “Hail to the Chief” was of Scottish origin and was a boating tune, Arthur suggested new music. Sousa responded with two selections, “Presidential Polonaise” and “Semper Fidelis.”  Although President Arthur got to enjoy the former, he left office and passed away before he could hear the latter. “Semper Fidelis” was written, according to a 1927 interview, “…one night while in tears after my comrades of the Marine Corps had sung their famous hymn at Quantico.” The work was considered by Sousa to be his finest and he reached back into his “A Book of Instruction for the Field-Trumpet and Drum” for a bugle march entitled, “With Steady Step.” He not only included the bugle march but the popular drum cadence associated with this march. One must assume that the drum cadence was written or edited by Mr. F. W. Lusby, Drum Instructor, USMC who contributed to the book. The bugle march is skillfully intertwined contrapuntally with the basses, woodwinds, and trombones.

The march was first performed at the inauguration of President Benjamin Harrison. As Sousa relates, “We were marching down Pennsylvania Avenue and had turned the corner at the Treasury Building….I had timed our playing of the march that the ‘trumpet’ theme would be heard for the first time, just as we got to the front of the reviewing stand. Suddenly ten extra trumpets were shot in the air, and the ‘theme’ was pealed out in unison.” The effect was astounding and much enjoyed by the president and the crowd. “Semper Fidelis” became the official march of the United States Marine Corps although no official order can be found.

Here is a photo of the United States Marine Band marching in a parade. Behind the bass drum are the Marine Corps field music musicians. They are holding the M1879 trumpets in F presumably ready to play a bugle march. “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band plays during the 1885 inaugural parade of Grover Cleveland. March 4, 1885. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Marine Band)


Uses a M18979 Trumpet in F

“The Thunderer”, according to Paul Bierley, noted Sousa scholar, was Mrs. Sousa’s favorite march. Like other marches written at this time, it was published by Harry Coleman of Philadelphia, being sold outright for $35. The march was dedicated to the Columbia Commandery No. 2, Knights Templar of Washington (Sousa was knighted in this Commandery on December 10, 1886) on the occasion of the 24th Triennial Conclave of the Grand Encampment. Sousa was a Master Mason for 51 years and three of his best known marches have Masonic origins: “The Crusader” (1888), “The Thunderer” (1889), and “Nobles of the Mystic Shrine” (1923). Again Sousa reached back into his 1186 publication, “A Book of Instruction for the Field-Trumpet and Drum” for a bugle march-this time one entitled, “Here’s Your Health, Sir.” As with “Semper Fidelis”, he not only included the bugle march but the drum part written as an accompaniment. Again one must assume that the drum part was either written or edited by Mr. F. W. Lusby, Drum Instructor, USMC who contributed to the book. The bugle march is skillfully intertwined contrapuntally with the woodwinds, and tenor line with the basses and horns proving a rhythmic accompaniment. The Regimental trumpets are used as a fanfare in the break-up strain.

The instrument Sousa had in mind for this march was the M1879 Trumpet in F with a detachable crook lowering the horn to the key of C. These double-coiled instruments are 16 inches in length with a 4-½ inch bell diameter. They are made of brass with a garland.  A notable American manufacture of the M1879 was Rudolph Wurlitzer of Cincinnati, Ohio.


Uses the “Egyptian” or “Aida” Trumpet in B-flat

I decided to include this work in this study due to the unique nature of this work.

Six Egyptian trumpets, nearly five feet long, were used by the Sousa Band in featuring this composition on the first tour in 1892. There is no record of the piece being performed by the band after that season. However, in 1904 Sousa appropriated some of the themes for “Her Majesty the Queen,” a movement of his At the King’s Court suite. Band parts of the original “March of the Royal Trumpets” found their way to the Detroit Concert Band in 1966, and the piece was revived for a radio broadcast. This was the first performance in seventy-four years, and the march was never published in the original form. – Paul E. Bierley, from The Works of John Philip Sousa

The Egyptian mentioned by Paul Bierley must refer to the one-valve “Aida” trumpets used in the famous opera by Giuseppe Verdi. The opera was first performed in 1871 and certainly Sousa knew of the music and must have been interested in the instrument. Verdi’s orchestration calls for “trombe egiziane” or Egyptian trumpets 3 in A-flat and 3 in B.  The Sousa band must have had some made in B-flat to perform this.

The one-valve Egyptian or Aida Trumpet employs one piston that drops the pitch of the instrument down by a whole step. “March of the Royal Trumpets” is unique in that Sousa writes fanfare type music in the first two sections that certainly has a Verdi flavor to it. All the notes are playable with the horn. The Trio section has a lyrical melodic line that is a bit of Sousa ingenuity in that the melody can be played by the one-valve Egyptian Trumpet when it’s repeated.


Uses bugle in B-flat

Although not a march Sheridan’s Ride includes several bugle calls.
This descriptive work was inspired by Thomas B. Read’s Civil War poem entitled Sheridan’s Ride which celebrates Union general Philip Sheridan’s rallying of his soldiers at the October 19th, 1864 Battle of Cedar Creek in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

The work uses “Assembly of the Trumpeters,” (First Call), “Reveille,” “To Arms” (a post-Civil War signal), and “Taps.”


Uses a M1892 Field Trumpet in G with the crook

Sousa wrote this march for the Boy Scouts of America after a request from Dr. Charles D. Hart. Sousa was a great supporter of Scouting who believed it was a powerful force in teaching Americanism. A very melodic march, the bugle march is used as a break-up strain in the Trio section. On suggestion, approved by Mr. Sousa, the famous novelist, Mr. Booth Tarkington, was selected to write lyrics. However, no words ever materialized. The march was never adopted as the official march of the Boy Scouts and it is a shame that Sousa did not incorporate the official bugle call for the Scouts. The Boy Scouts adopted the M1892 Field Trumpet (bugle) as early as 1916 and the bugle would remain an important part of scouting until interest began to diminish in the 1970s and 80s. In 1986 the Boy Scouts discontinued their authorization of an “Official Bugle,” although scouts still use bugles or trumpets for ceremonies, troops have troop buglers and it is possible to earn a merit badge for bugling.


Uses a M1892 Field Trumpet in G with the crook

With the outbreak of the World War Sousa found himself responding to his patriotic urgings. He received a commission from the US Navy to organize the bands at the Great Lakes Training Center in Illinois. As the war progressed in Europe, it was felt that it would be only a matter of time before America was drawn into the conflict. With the sudden growth of the armed forces to meet the war requirements came the need for musicians to staff bands and provide field musicians (buglers and drummers) to sound the military signals. Great Lakes Training Center trained Navy musicians for duty in the fleet. Sousa was put in charge of over three hundred sailors training for musical duty in the Navy. In addition of the bandsmen training for duty in Navy fleet bands, there were buglers training for duty on naval vessels.

Sousa combined the bandsmen and field musicians into a large marching unit that was known as the “Jackie” Band. This band toured the United States in Liberty Loan and Red Cross drives raising millions of dollars for the war effort. He did this all for one dollar a month at the rank of Lieutenant. His influence and work resulted in many fine fleet bands. He left the Navy after the Armistice with the rank of Lieutenant-Commander, USNR and he proudly wore the insignia for the rest of his life, even being buried in the uniform.

His march “The Naval Reserve” was one of his naval salutes and dedicated to the officers and men of the Naval Reserve. The march incorporates his song, “Blue Ridge, I’m Coming Back To You.” The lyrics of the refrain begin, “Blue Ridge, Blue Ridge, I hear the bugle call.” Fittingly enough Sousa wrote a bugle march preceding the song which appears as the Trio in the march. This delightful bugle march is accompanied by a basic rhythmic figure on the 1st and 3rd beats of each measure and a sparse woodwind line.

This bugle call was written with the M1892 Field Trumpet in mind. Note the photo below of Sousa and the “Jackie” Band. In the front rows are buglers holding the M1892 horn. The slides on the trumpets are pulled out to have the instrument sound in the key of F.


Uses F Regimental Trumpets or M1892 Field Trumpet in G with the crook

After enlisting in the U.S. Navy in 1917, Sousa made a study of sea chanteys and then wrote an article for The Great Lakes Recruit entitled “Songs of the Sea.” He made further use of the study while on a brief leave from the navy the following spring by composing one of his medley-type marches and calling it The Chantyman’s March. The march incorporates eight chanteys, in this order: “Knock a Man Down,” “Away for Rio,” “Haul the Bowline,” “The Ballad of Billy Taylor,” “It’s Time for Us to Leave Her,” “Put up Clearing Gear,” “Hoodah Day,” and “A-Roving.”-Paul E. Bierley, The Works of John Philip Sousa (Westerville, Ohio: Integrity Press, 1984) This march uses the bugle call “Knock off Bright Work” referred to in this march as “Put up Clearing Gear”  


Uses a M1892 Field Trumpet in G with the crook

This march was dedicated “To the officers and men of the U.S. Infantry.” It is one of the marches written during World War I and although not a popular one certainly has a military quality about it no doubt emphasized by the bugle type lick at the end of the second strain and the bugle fanfare in the breakup. This doesn’t really qualify as a bugle march in the definition provided above but the use of the horn is reminiscent of the bugle call in the breakup section of “The Thunderer”


This march was written to commemorate the war efforts of the nations who fought against Germany. The request from Joseph Gannon, Division of Associated Flags chairman of the Fourth Liberty Loan drive, was to have a march that incorporated anthems of all 21 nations who were allied against Germany but Sousa thought it impractical so he settled on five-Belgium, Italy, France, Great Britain and America. It is interesting to note that since the United States had no anthem at that time, Sousa chose “Columbia Gem of the Ocean” as the representing anthem.
The reason this march is included is the four-measure bugle call in B-flat at the beginning and as an introduction to the French anthem.
The call is not found in any manual. It is an appropriate fanfare.


Uses the M1894 Bugle in B-flat

March of the American Cavalry.  This march was dedicated to the Officers and Men of the 311th Cavalry.

This is the first march that Sousa wrote using “Cavalry Regimental Trumpets in B-flat & Drums” What is interesting is that there is no Cavalry Trumpet in B-flat. The Cavalry bugles are actually Trumpets in F or E-flat. Once again the nomenclature describing signal instruments is confusing.

Sousa may have had the M1894 bugle in mind for this march. They certainly were the signal instrument used during World War I but it was a horn that was used mostly by the Infantry. These small horns, called “Trench Bugles”, were manufactured by the thousands under specifications by the US Army.


Uses the M1892

Dedicated to the U.S. Navy. Written especially for the Great Lakes Training Center “Jackie” Band.  Uses M1892 field trumpets with tuning slide in F position.


A Memorial March. Dedicated to Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt. In memory of the brave who gave their lives that liberty shall not perish.

Although, not a bugle march, this work is included because of the bugle call of Taps which is incorporated into the work.

This memorial march, composed in the style of a funeral dirge, was written to honor the Soldiers of World War I who did not return. Sousa said in a Winston-Salem Journal interview on January 7, 1920, “It will not be a monetary success. One cannot write from his heart and write for rewards. I was thinking of those fine young boys who will never return.”

This march includes the bugle call Taps. The call Taps had been in existence since 1862 when it was composed at Harrison’s Landing following the Seven Days Battles. Taps was used as the last call of the day and then at funerals as a final musical salute. It first appears in military manuals in1874 under the title “Extinguish Lights” and Sousa includes it in his 1886 “A Book of Instruction for the Field-Trumpet and Drum” under that name along with an accompanying drum part. Officially the name changes from “Extinguish Lights” to “Taps” in 1891, although the call had been referred to as “Taps” for decades. Sousa changes the rhythmic figure in the call possibility because many players were performing it that way. It is the only military manual (albeit a private publication) that incorrectly notates the call. To this day trumpeters of the US Marine Band sound the call with that rhythm despite all evidence to the contrary. It shows the reach of Sousa’s power after all these generations.

Sousa begins the composition in the key of B-flat minor (funeral marches are always in a minor key) and modulates to F major in order to have the bugle part in that key. Once again Sousa may have had the M1892 Field Trumpet in mind with the slide pulled out to F.


This march was composed at the request of Midshipman W.A. Ingram Class of United States Naval Academy.  The dedication is “To Tecumseh”, the statue that is located by Bancroft Hall at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. I decided to include this march because it’s the only other Sousa march that includes a reference to a bugle call from the manual. In this case it is from the Navy manual, “Commence Coaling.”


Uses M1892 Bugle

The Gallant Seventh was dedicated to the 7th Infantry Regiment, New York Militia. Uses M1894 bugle in B-flat.


Uses Regimental Trumpets in F (M1879)

“I have always found a great deal of inspiration in these old songs. … We cannot improve simple straightforward melodies, but we can give them a more adequate, full-throated expression….” Sousa made this statement to a newspaper reporter in discussing the new march he had just build around “Auld Lang Syne.”

“Auld Lang Syne” happened to be the marching song of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Boston, the oldest military organization in the United States. When the Sousa Band visited Boston in 1923, a delegation from the “Ancients” requested that Sousa compose a march incorporating the song so dear to them. (From Paul Bierley, The Works of John Philip Sousa)

The march is written for Regimental Trumpets in F but was usually played with the M1892 field trumpets with tuning slide pulled out to the F position or by band members playing with the first and third valve down. While not in the true form of a bugle march the Regimental Trumpet part gives a martial background to “Auld Lang Syne.”


Dedicated to Col. Osmun Latrobe, Regimental Commander and the officers and men of the Fourth U.S. Cavalry. Uses the M1894 bugle in B-flat.


“It seems incredible that an institution would refuse a composition by a composer of Sousa’s stature, but this happened in the summer of 1927 in Minneapolis. Clarence W. Spears, coach of the University of Minnesota football team, had verbally requested the march for his school in 1926; the following year the march was formally requested by the alumni organization. When the time came for the dedication of the march at the Minnesota State Fair on September 3, 1927, the delegated alumni representative was out of town, and Lotus D. Coffman, president of the university, was asked to accept Sousa’s manuscript of the march on behalf of the university. He refused, however, because he felt the march should be presented at a university function, not at the state fair, and he was wary of commercial implications. Nevertheless, the dedication ceremony was held, and the Sousa manuscript was accepted by the state fair president.

Sousa used Indian themes in the march, though sparingly, because he had been impressed by the number of Indian names in Minnesota. He later added field drum and bugle parts upon the request of Colonel Frederick G. Stutz, commanding officer of the 206th National Guard Infantry Regiment of Minnesota. The march’s title was chosen in a campus contest, and words were written by student Michael J. Jalma.”- Paul E. Bierley, The Works of John Philip Sousa.


This march was originally called “The Queen of the Plateau” before being given its present title. It was written at the request of J. F. Zimmerman, president of the University of New Mexico. Zimmerman asked that it not be named for his school; rather, he suggested that a simple title such as “New Mexico” would do honor to the entire state. Sousa followed his suggestion and dedicated it “To Governor R. C. Dillon and the people of New Mexico.”

Much of the march is original, but Sousa also adapted several Spanish, Indian, and American songs of New Mexico. One was the state song, “O, Fair New Mexico,” by Elizabeth Garrett. Others were “La Desgracia,” “Peña,” and “Recuerdas de Amistad.”

Paul E. Bierley, The Works of John Philip Sousa (Westerville, Ohio: Integrity Press, 1984), 73. Used by permission.

It also includes a short bugle march. It is interesting as this bugle call is in the key of C, the only bugle call in all his marches set that way.  


In honor of the 30th anniversary of the British regiment’s participation with the United States Marine Corps of the relief expedition during the Boxer Rebellion in China. Has a bugle march in the middle performed on B-flat cornets.


Dedicated to Admiral William A. Moffatt, Chief of the U.S. Navy Aeronautical Bureau

Captain William A. Moffett, was the commander of the Great Lakes Naval Training Station in 1917 and asked Sousa to “join” the Navy, at the age of 62 to train and lead musicians who were heading to the fleet. This march is dedicated to Moffett, who was a Medal of Honor recipient (Moffett had received the medal for his captaincy of the USS Chester in a daring and dangerous night landing in 1914 at Veracruz, Mexico) and had a naval air base in California named for him.

On the piano version of the sheet music, printed by Theodore Presser Co of Philadelphia, there is a bugle call printed above the music. This is listed as the Bugle Call “Flight Quarters” which is the is the US Cavalry call “Boots and Saddles.” Moffett said all Naval Airmen would recognize the call which was sounded to alert aviators to their planes. According to Loras Schissel, Library of Congress music specialist and Sousa scholar, Moffett wanted Sousa to put “Flight Quarters” in the march. Sousa told Moffelt that he would compose a new call with which to open the march. He put “Flight Quarters” call below the title.

Moffett , called the “Father of Naval Aviation”, was killed when the USS Akron, a helium-filled rigid airship, crashed in April 1933.

The march is written for Regimental Trumpets in F but was usually played with the M1892 field trumpets with tuning slide pulled out to the F position.


Three years after the death of John Philip Sousa, the United States Marine Corps published a manual for Field Musics which included instructions for the Drum, Trumpet (Bugle) and Fife

The manual has a section of Marches for the bugle including the ones written in his 1886 book

New ones credited to Sousa:
“Eagle, Globe, and Anchor”
“The Leatherneck”
“On Land and Sea”
“Sea Soldiers”

plus an Inspection Piece “General McDougal,” no doubt written for Douglas C. McDougal (April 23, 1876 – January 20, 1964), the 10th Assistant to the Major General Commandant of the Marine Corps who served 40 years in the Marine Corps.

It is uncertain when Sousa composed these marches but they certainly need to be included in his complete works


“Quartermaster Manual, May 1865”, Camp and Garrison Equipage, P. 47, Specifications for Trumpets & Specifications for Bugles,

U.S. Quartermaster Department, War Department(corrected galley proofs – imprint & manuscript pages [National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC 20408]

Specification No. 38, dated February 15th, 1879, “Specifications for Trumpets” Quartermaster General’s Office, War Department

Specification No. 325, dated May 02nd, 1892, “Specifications for Trumpets” Quartermaster General’s Office, War Department

Specification No. 342, dated April 24th, 1894, “Specifications for Bugle” Quartermaster General’s Office, War Department

Specification No. 1152, dated April 25th, 1912, (typescript), “Specifications for Bugle, Bugle Sling, and Mouthpiece Strap”, OQMG, War Department [National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC 20408]

US Marine Corps Manual For Field Music of 1935

Bierley, Paul The Works of John Philip Sousa. Westerville, OH: Integrity Press, 1984

Bierley, Paul John Philip Sousa: American Phenomenon. New York: Appleton, Century, Crofts, 1973

Carter, Jack The Origins of the Model 1892 Bugle (M1892 Field Trumpet)

Military History Institute US ARMY HORN SIGNALING, 1776-1910 pdf
“Trumpet and Bugle Sources EASMES” (Early American Secular Music and Its European Sources)-A listing of manuals compiled by noted music historian Raoul Camus.

U.S. Army Quartermaster General Specifications for. United States Bugles, Trumpets, and Accoutrements. Compiled by Randy Rach.


  1. Barry Owen Furrer Barry Owen Furrer March 31, 2021

    What a wonderful anthology and necessary body of research currently lacking (until now) for Sousa scholars and enthusiasts alike! Thank you, Jari, for making this available to us!

Comments are closed.


Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)