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Old July 1st, 2007, 07:30 PM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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Join Date: May 2006
Location: Alamogordo, New Mexico, USA
Posts: 8,625
Default Hymns by Sousa

John Philip Sousa, then conductor of the United States Marine Band, prepared a band transcription of the beloved hymn Nearer, My God, to Thee to be performed by the Band at the funeral of President James A. Garfield in 1881.

In 1892, Sousa gave up the baton of the Marine Band and formed his own “commercial band”, The Sousa Band. He wished to include Sunday performances in the band’s schedule, but was concerned that religious leaders might feel that such a secular activity was inappropriate on the Sabbath. To defuse such criticism, he included in his Sunday performances his own band transcriptions of a number of hymns and other sacred pieces. Among these works was Songs of Grace and Songs of Glory, a medley of five religious numbers in which he included an updated form of his earlier transcription of Nearer, My God, to Thee.

A while ago, I extracted and adapted the Nearer, My God, to Thee section from a wonderful transcription of the entire Sousa work by Keith Brion, noted Sousa scholar and founder and conductor of The New Sousa Band, and Loras Schissel, founder and conductor of the Great Virginia Military Band and curator of the Sousa collection at the Library of Congress. I also worked from a copy of Sousa's original manscript, which I was able to obtain from a university collection.

The MIDI file is here:

In my version of the arrangement, there are two lines for euphonium, the instrument of two of my step-grandsons. The bassoon ostinato is in honor of my friend María Buonviri, and the tubular bell part in honor of her husband, Nate Buonviri. The tubular bell part is evocative of a "change ringing" sequence. As arranged here, it requires an extended range set of bells.

Best regards,

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