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Noon Edition

Sousa: The Northern Pines

John Philip Sousa is probably one of the best known of all American composers. Both of his parents were immigrants—his father was born Portugal and his mother in Bavaria. When he was only 25 years old, he was named the conductor of the U.S. Marine Band. He held this post for twelve years before leaving in 1892 to form his own group. In his first year with the Marine Band, Sousa wrote music for President James Garfield’s inauguration and, a mere six months later, for his funeral. The loss was particularly sad for Sousa since he and Garfield belonged to the same Masonic Lodge in Washington, D.C. In fact, after hearing of Garfield’s death, Sousa was so distraught that he spent all night wandering the streets of Washington in a daze.

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