Banjos, Mandolins, and John Philip Sousa: America’s Musical Paradox
Date:Wed, 10/3/2018 - Fri, 8/2/2019
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When we think of John Philip Sousa’s marches we immediately imagine his jaunty melodies played by wind bands and string orchestras of every size and ability. However, the March King’s musical ideas were also arranged for a variety of other instrumental combinations including full banjo and mandolin orchestras. Many of his early marches, including The Washington Post March and The Thunderer, were published by Philadelphia’s Harry Coleman Music Company. But when David Blakely became the manager of the John Philip Sousa Civilian Military Band in 1892 he convinced Sousa to sign a contract with Cincinnati’s John Church Music Company. Recognizing the financial benefit of creating different instrumental arrangements of his new marches, Sousa began soliciting other publishers for similar types of music arrangements. These companies’ arrangers of his marches for banjo and mandolin were John Klohr, a minstrel show musician and trombonist who later performed with the Henry Fillmore band; F. W. Wessenberg, a leading banjo and mandolin instructor from Cincinnati during the late 1890s; and Ralph Colicchio, a virtuoso banjo player and arranger from New York who worked for the Irving Berlin Company. This exhibit examines their distinctive banjo and mandolin arrangements of several of the March King’s most famous march melodies and the earnings that Sousa made from them.
Cost: Free and open to the public.
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