Price: $1000.00



Phone: 212-860-5541 


Ideal twice autographed and inscribed first state original sepia photograph on a 5.5” x 7.25” heavy photographer’s mat of the March King in a 3/4 length pose with his ivory baton and orders from various European countries.  This photograph was signed in the year of the famed  1910-1911 Sousa Band World Tour.  Sousa likely signed some of these in advance and then in this case personalized the piece a second time on the mount at the time it was given.


Sousa (1854 - 1932) was born into an immigrant family in Washington D.C.  His father a trombonist in the United States Marine Band encouraged his son’s musical interest and Sousa as a boy was a highly accomplished violinist, studying with John Esputa Senior and even longer with John Esputa Junior who ran a local music school.  Esputa Junior in addition to teaching him violin, also taught him various band instruments in which he became quite proficient.  His father apprenticed him to the Marine Band in 1868 at the age of thirteen to keep his son from joining the circus. He remained with the band until 1875 when he went to Philadelphia to compose and play the violin in pit orchestras there.  He even played under the baton of Jacques Offenbach in 1875 during his American tour.  Sousa eventually was sought in 1880 as the next band leader of the Marine Band and officially took the position on October 1, 1880.  For the next 22 years, Sousa led the band and composed endlessly including some of his most famous marches like, “The Gladiator”, “Semper Fidelis”, “The Washington Post”, “The Thunderer” were all written while he headed the band.  He took the band on their first national tours, in 1891 and 1892.  Exhausted after 22 years he retired on July 30, 1892.  On the advice of his manager, David Blakely, he went to Europe to relax and take in the European military bands on parade.  The works listed above were so popular by that point, he heard the European bands play them whilst there.  He returned to America a month later and formed the greatest band of musicians available and they launched in New Jersey on September 26, 1892.  By then Sousa was akin to a rock star and his popularity was immediate and Sousa’s Band became a huge draw.  The band performed until the year before his death, 1931 with some 15,623 concerts.  (Not including World War I when Sousa re-enlisted and conducted the United States Navy Band.)


Sousa toured with his Sousa Band in Europe four times between 1900 and 1905.  At the time of the tours, he was one of America’s best known citizens in Europe and akin to a rock star today.  The band was commanding any fee they requested and brought out Claude Debussy for one as a critic.  Interestingly Sousa was the one who introduced Rag Time to Europe during the tours.  


The World Tour went from West to East, 13 months and forty seven thousand miles. (According to saxophonist Albert Knecht’s detailed logs) The tour embarked for Canada on December 24, 1910.  He was diagnosed with Malaria earlier in the Fall during a hunting trip and got off to a slow start meeting the band for concerts in Montreal.  From Canada they sailed to England, Scotland and Ireland for concerts from January 9th through March 3rd, they then sailed to the Canary Islands, South Africa from March 24th to April 21st, Tasmania, Australia and New Zealand from May 12th through August 23rd.  By way of Fiji, they reached Hawaii on September 10th not yet part of the Union and then onto Western Canada and the Western States until October 15th.  From October 23rd to December 1st, they toured the heartland and concluded in New York City from December 4th to December 10th at the New York City Hippodrome. As always, despite Sousa’s massive catalog, he prepared several works in advance of the tour: “The Federal March” for Australia and New Zealand in 1910 and Dweller’s of the Western World Suite in 1910.  During the tour he wrote a song which was given at the end of the tour, “Belle of the Bayou” and during the tour he wrote “Tales of a Traveler Suite”, which was given after their return.


The uncredited original photograph is typically American in format.  The 4” x 6” image is a holdover from the days of the cabinet photograph.  The Library of Congress has this same image and does not give a photographer credit.  The New York photographer, Aimé Dupont, who was the official Metropolitan Opera photographer at that time took images of Sousa in this same uniform with the same orders which he did not always wear, however, we have never seen an uncredited Aimé Dupont photograph either on the mount, on the image itself, or later with a blind stamp.  All said, most of the images taken of Sousa were taken by news staff photographers.  It is likely, as this is a posed photograph that Sousa hired one to take some portraits that did not generally sell images to the public and therefore no embossment, or stamp as it was not being sent to the media. 


Despite the minor top left corner issue seen in the scan, this is one of the very finest photographs we have seen of the March King and one which would grace an important collection of music autographs.