John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa
1854–1932
Inducted in 2021

John Philip Sousa joined the United States Marine Band as an apprentice musician in 1868 at the young age of 14 and remained in it until 1875. From 1880 to 1892, he served as director of the Marine Band. Under Sousa's leadership, the band began to tour and performed for audiences outside of Washington, D.C. Upon leaving the Marine Band in 1892, Sousa formed what is known today as the John Philip Sousa Band, which consisted of some of the most talented and recognized musicians from America and Europe. Sousa and his famous band toured across the continent from 1892 to 1931. Sousa, who was close with University of Illinois director of bands A. A. Harding, wrote the "University of Illinois March" in 1929 and it was performed live by the Sousa Band for the first time on NBC Radio that same year. Harding convinced Sousa that the best way to keep his legacy alive was to have the University of Illinois Concert Band continue to play Sousa's music under his direction. Upon Sousa's death in 1932, 39 trunks and 2 boxes of music were shipped to the University of Illinois Band Department and the Sousa Archives was established.