A Capitol Fourth - America's Independence Day Celebration
The Concert History of the Fourth Patriotic Reflections Fireworks and Fun

Old Glory July 4th Over the Years Pierre L'Enfant and the National Mall Sousa: The March King Explore America's Past
Patriotic Notes and Quotes
What the Fourth Means to You

Sousa: The March King


The Marine Drum and Bugle Corps perform at the 2010 "A Capitol Fourth" celebration.


In addition to 135 marches, John Philip Sousa wrote dozens of other works, including operettas, songs and suites. His music was originally recorded on wax cylinder.  Prolific inventor Thomas Edison created this first-ever technique for sound recordings which were made on tinfoil cylinders using two needles: one for recording and one for playback.  Unfortunately, the playback method destroyed the recording and these cylinders could be used only once or twice. 

Now, sound recordings are primarily in digital formats.  They retain the same audio quality no matter how many times they are played back or duplicated and are much more portable those original wax cylinders.

Institutions like the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian are working to preserve vintage sound recordings through a program called Saving America's Sounds. Click here to learn more about the program. To listen to some of Sousa’s favorite compositions recorded on the original wax cylinder format, click the audio links below.


Semper Fidelis (1888)

The Washington Post March (1889)

The Thunderer (1889)

The Liberty Bell (1893)

Manhattan Beach March (1893)

King Cotton (1895)

The Stars and Stripes Forever (1896)

El Capitan (1896)

Hands Across the Sea (1899)

Fairest of the Fair (1908)

U.S. Field Artillery (1917)

The Gallant Seventh (1922)
The Black Horse Troop (1924)
Daughters of Texas (1929)



The Queen of Hearts, 1885, also known as Royalty and Roguery.
The Smugglers, 1882
Desiree, 1883
El Capitan, 1895
The Bride Elect, 1897, libretto by Sousa
The Charlatan, 1898, also known as The Mystical Miss, lyrics by Sousa
Chris and the Wonderful Lamp, 1899
The Free Lance, 1905
The American Maid, 1909, also known as The Glass Blowers

And to hear a sample of how far recording technology has come, enjoy this recording of “The Washington Post March,” performed by the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps on the 2010 “A Capitol Fourth”.

Washington Post March (2010)