Friday, June 26, 2015

FRIDAY, JUNE 26, 2015

"Music is a friend of labor for it lightens the task
 by refreshing the nerves and spirit of the worker."
AUTHOR: William Green
William Green (1873-1952),
American trade union leader
"The energy found innately in the rhythms of music seems
  to take workers' minds off the rigors of their labor."

The Washington Post, composed in 1889,
is the march that made Sousa famous,
the march that made a newspaper famous
and the march that made the two-step famous.
During the 1880's several Washington,
D.C., newspapers competed vigorously
for public favor. One of these, the
"Washington Post," organized what was
known as the Washington Post Amateur
Authors' Association and sponsored an
essay competition as an encouragement
to get District school children to write and
perhaps get their parents to buy news-
papers. Owners of the newspaper,
Frank Hatton (a Republican Cabinet
member) and Beriah Wilkins (a former
Democratic congressman),
Frank Hatton and Beriah Wilkins
asked Sousa, then leader of the Marine
Band, to compose a march for the award
ceremony, a march to which Sousa
dedicated to the newspaper.
On June 15, 1889
the ceremony was held on the
Smithsonian Institution grounds
Smithonian Institiution
Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893)
and other dignitaries among the huge
crowd of 25,000 people. When the new 
march was played by Sousa and the Marine Band,
it was enthusiastically received, and within days it
became exceptionally popular in Washington.
The march happened to be admirably
suited to the "two-step" dance
(a dance which consisted of fast-fast-slow
movements, a polka-like skip followed by
a glide) which was just introduced, sweep-
ing America and Europe. Actually the
Washington Post March is thought to have
been concocted by Sousa to be the perfect
music for this new dance. The trio melody
contains a little melodic half step dip and
return that mirrors the sideways tilt used
by the dance partners. The jaunty 6/8
march-time signature has echoes of the
older waltz rhythm that was receding in
popularity but it adds the peppiness
and faster pace of the polka.
A dance masters' organization
adopted this lively march as it was
found to be highly suitable by the dancers
at their yearly convention and soon after,
the march was vaulted into international fame
sparking a huge world-wide dance craze. The
two-step gradually replaced the waltz as a
popular dance, and variations of the basic two-
step insured the march's popularity all through
the 1890's and into the twentieth century.
The Two-Step was one of the most popular dances in America dating from
1890 to 1910.  As The Complete Book of Ballroom Dancing described, the
“dance consisted of a series of chassés either forward or sideward to 2/4 or
4/4 music … a quick march with a skip in each step.” A chassé is three
changes of weight alternating each foot with a close of the free foot next to
the foot supporting the weight. The Two-Step was popular at sedate elite
balls and cotillions as well as in rural areas during barn dances and
community socials and was done to the music of John Philip Sousa marches.
Sousa's march became identified with the two-
step, and it was as famous abroad as it was in
the United States. In some European countries,
all two-steps were called 'Washington posts.'
British band journalist remarked that
Johann Strauss, Jr.
was called the "Waltz King"
that American bandmaster Sousa
should be called the "March King."
regal title was coined and has
remained ever since.
This recognizable march is
written in standard form:
The opening strain of the march is
famous and familiar to many.
Typically, the march is played at a
tempo of 110 to 120 beats per
minute, rarely any faster.  March
enthusiasts have argued that the
trio sections's mellow and moving
phrases are among Sousa's most
musical. Six sudden eighth notes
move the melody along. Its un-
usually calm break strain is a
simple adaptation of the trio
melody. It then moves on to the
first trio repeat, where the low
brass begins an even more mellow
counter melody. The introduction is
a clear example of octave doubling.
Next to "The Stars and Stripes Forever,"
"The Washington Post" has been
Sousa's most widely known march. He
delighted in telling how he had heard it
in so many different countries,
played in so many ways-
Here is a way it was played in 1950:
Dixieland Style
Bob Crosby and His Bob Cats

and often accredited to native
composers. In Britain, for example,
it was known by such names
as "No Surrender" and "Washington
Greys." "According to a letter dated
September 28, 1920, from Sousa to
Edward B. McLean, editor of the
'Washington Post,' one edition of this
music was published in Mexico under the
title "Unser Pasa." "The Washington Post"
was a standard at Sousa Band performances
and was often openly demanded when
not scheduled for a program.
It was painful for Sousa to relate
that, like "Semper Fidelis"
and other marches of that period
received only $35 for it, while the
publisher, who owned the complete
rights to the music, made a fortune
due to the enourmous sales. Of that
sum, $25 was for a piano arrange-
ment, $5 for a band arrangement,
and $5 for an orchestra arrangement.
This was something that would be a
factor in his decision to leave the
Marine Corps to strike out on his own.
Today, at a community room in
Washington, a spotlight illuminates a
life-sized color portrait of the black-
bearded Sousa, resplendent in his
scarlet Marine Band uniform. This is
the John Philip Sousa Community
Room in the Washington Post Building.
Washington Post Building, 1948
It is the newspaper's tribute to the