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Council for Research in Music Education

Review
Author(s): Edward A. Zadrozny
Review by: Edward A. Zadrozny
Source: Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, No. 44 (Fall, 1975), pp. 59-60
Published by: University of Illinois Press on behalf of the Council for Research in Music
Education
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40317384
Accessed: 01-09-2015 11:49 UTC

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59

BOOK REVIEW
JOHN PHILLIP SOUSA:

AMERICAN PHENOMENON

paul e. bierly

reviewedbyEdwardA. Zadrozny
In the yearsjust priorto the turnof the century,a man arose in the
UnitedStateswhowas to have a tremendousimpacton themusicalworld
colorfuland talented
and Americanhistory.The storyof this extremely
been releasedin a book entitled,
JohnPhillipSousa:
musicianhas recently
AmericanPhenomenon,by Paul E. Bierly.
During the course of this 261 page book, Mr. Bierlypresentsan
well documented,and highlycomplimentary
pictureof this
interesting,
stalwartofAmericanmusic.His accountis readableand mostenjoyable.
's approachto Sousa is not strictly
Paul Bierly
biographical;the reader
to formulatea clear overviewof Sousa's life, his
has the opportunity
bands,and philosophies.The book has sixchapters:MinorComposerin a
Major Role; Biographyof JohnPhillipSousa; The Gentle Man; Sousa's
Philosophyof Music; The IncredibleSousa Band; and MarchingOn. In
fourappendices,Mr. Bierlycataloguesthe worksof JohnPhillip Sousa,
recordsinformation
about Sousa's relatives,reportsthevariousresidences

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EdwardA. Zadrozny

60

of the Sousas and finally,presentsa briefoutline of Sousa's military


career.
Sousa, as viewedby Bierly,was a trueAmericanphenomenon;"... a
productof the era in which his countryemergedas an international
power." Throughoutthe book Mr. Bierlytakes greatpains to pointout
thatSousa was notjust a composerof marches.
In additionto beinga veryprolificcomposer,JohnPhillipSousa was
also one ofthefinestconductorsin theworld.Bytheuse ofextensiveinterviewswithformer
band members,Paul Bierlypresentsexcitingand colorful recollectionsof Sousa the conductor. Bierlyalso providesus witha
ratherclear picturepertaining
to the verytiring,but rewardinglifeto be
had in the Sousa Band.
One unusual aspect of this book was Mr. Bierly'streatmentof the
of Sousa's alumni. As Bierlypointsout, "For several
accomplishments
decades thelistofformermembersof Sousa's Band read like a veritable
'Who's Who in AmericanMusic' " Mr. Bierlyselectsa fewof theseoutstanding alumni and presents their accomplishments(among those
featuredare ArthurPryor,HerbertL. Clarke,WilliamBell, and Meredith
Wilson).Althoughthissectiontendsto be approachedas ifit werea trivia
and reinforces
awarenessof the imsectionof sorts,it is stillinteresting
music
Sousa
had
on
everywhere.
pact
In compilingthematerialsforthisbook, Paul Bierlyspentnearlynine
yearsin basic research.Amongthemostimportantmaterialsstudiedwere
Sousa's publishedmusic; his tour schedules; scatteredsectionsof his
band's musiclibrary;U.S. MarineCorpsand U.S. Navyrecords;Masonic
records; phonographrecordingswith which he was associated; early
Washingtonand Philadelphianewspapers;vitalstatisticsand churchand
recordsof Sousa's relatives;issues of the Sousa Band Fraternal
cemetery
and a considerablenumberof books and magazine
SocietyNewsletters;
and newspaperarticlesdealingwithSousa.
Recommendations
Paul Bierlyhas authoreda numberof books and articlespertainingto
JohnPhillip Sousa, and he must be consideredone of the foremost
authoritieson Sousa. The fruitsof his manyhard yearsof labor can be
sampled in this publication of John Phillip Sousa: American
Phenomenon.
The book withwhichMr. Bierlypresentsus is suitableas a reference
book or just reading pleasure. I would considerit a must for music
librarieseverywhere.

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