John Philip Sousa in 1926

I only recently realized that I left John Philip Sousa out of my list of composers active in 1926.

Sousa composed five marches and two songs that year. The marches are:

▪ Universal Peace
▪ Old Ironsides
▪ Sesquicentennial Exposition March
▪ The Gridiron Club
▪ Pride of the Wolverines

The songs are:

▪ Crossing the Bar (setting a poem by Alfred Tennyson)
▪ There’s a Merry Brown Thrush (setting a poem by Lucy Larcom)

A non-combat veteran of the First World War, Sousa was 72 years old in 1926, but still active as a composer and conductor, touring with The Sousa Band. He was an advocate and activist for music education and composers’ rights in America; he would testify before Congress on these issues in ’27 and ’28.

As I overlooked Sousa, my list of wind band compositions from 1926 numbered only three. So, I was unable to provide a top five list for the genre as part of The AYICM Awards for 1926. Clearly two of those marches would have rounded out the top five. Still, there’s no question that Janáček’s Rikadla, for wind band and choir, would have remained as Best Composition for Wind Band even with the inclusion of the Sousa marches, so at least we didn’t name the wrong piece as winner.

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