Georgia State University Perimeter College
Community Wind Ensemble
Virtual Concert | Spring 2021
In addition to the featured selection below, our Virtual Concert | Spring 2021 will have works by
the full wind ensemble and small ensembles featuring every section of the group.
The Black Horse Troop
John Phillip Sousa
Full Wind Ensemble
“The Black Horse Troop” (1924)
Sousa’s love of horses and for the military combine in The Black Horse Troop March of 1924, one of his greatest and most elegant marches. The march is dedicated to Troop A (Cavalry) of the Cleveland National Guard. Their exclusive use of black horses was the inspiration for the title. Troop A, once known as the First City Troop of Cleveland, was originally an independent militia and has had a distinguished history since its formation in 1877.
At a dinner held in Sousa’s honor in November, 1924, a new march was requested by Captain Walker Nye of Troop A. The commission was fulfilled quickly, and the march was premiered in Cleveland on October 17, 1925, at a Sousa Band concert which also marked the forty-eighth anniversary of Troop A. For the occasion, the mounted troopers were dressed in the blue uniforms of 1877, complete with black fur busbies.
About the Composer
John Philip Sousa personified turn-of-the-century America, the comparative innocence and brash energy of a still new nation. His ever touring band represented America across the globe and brought music to hundreds of American towns. John Philip Sousa, born 6 November 1854, reached this exalted position with startling quickness. In 1880, at the age of 26, he became conductor of the U. S. Marine Band. In twelve years the vastly improved ensemble won high renown and Sousa’s compositions earned him the title of “The March King”. Sousa went one better with the formation of his own band in 1892, bringing world acclaim. In its first seven years the band gave 3500 concerts; in an era of train and ship travel it logged over a million miles in nearly four decades. There were European tours in 1900, 1901, 1903, and 1905, and a world tour in 1910–11, the zenith of the band era.
The unprecedented popularity of the Sousa Band came at a time when few American orchestras existed. From the Civil War to about 1920, band concerts were the most important aspect of American musical life. No finer band than Sousa’s was ever heard. Sousa modified the brass band by decreasing the brass and percussion instruments, increasing its woodwinds, and adding a harp. His conducting genius attracted the finest musicians, enabling him to build an ensemble capable of executing programmes almost as varied as those of a symphony orchestra. The Sousa Band became the standard by which American bands were measured, causing a dramatic upgrading in quality nationally.
Sousa’s compositions also spread his fame. Such marches as The Stars and Stripes Forever, El Capitan, Washington Post, and Semper Fidelis are universally acknowledged as the best of the genre. Sousa said a march “should make a man with a wooden leg step out”, and his surely did. Although he standardised the march form as it is known today, he was no mere maker of marches, but an exceptionally inventive composer of over 200 works, including symphonic poems, suites, operas and operettas. His principles of instrumentation and tonal colour influenced many classical composers. His robust, patriotic operettas of the 1890s helped introduce a truly native musical attitude in American theatre.
The library of Sousa’s Band contained over 10,000 titles. Among them are the numerous band works of Sousa including his 136 marches and many concert compositions.
– Roger Ruggeri
The complete Virtual Concert | Spring 2021
will premiere on May 20
Although we would rather be performing on stage, until that is safe for everyone, we will continue to reach out to our audience virtually.
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Until then, browse our photo galleries for images from past concerts.