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Composers Datebook: Sousa's Withdrawn March

August 30, 2010

Below is Composers Datebook which features the wind band icon John Philip Sousa. You can find the audio clip and the text below. Enjoy!

 

Composers Datebook audio (8/30/10)

 

Sousa gets stiffed in Minneapolis

 

It was on this day in 1929 that a new march by John Philip Sousa was played for the first -- and last -- time until almost 60 years later. The Foshay Tower Washington Memorial March was commissioned by Wilbur Foshay, a high-flying Minneapolis businessman of the Roaring 20's who fell victim to the stock market crash and criminal charges of mail fraud.

 

One of his extravagant projects was the Foshay Tower he built in downtown Minneapolis. An office building shaped like the Washingon Monument, it was for many years the tallest structure in the city. It still stands, with Foshay's name carved in huge letters on all sides of the obelisk, now renovated as a historic site. For many years the Tower's elegant lobby displayed Wilbur Foshay's portrait, along with the score of Sousa's march, which the March King himself conducted in Minneapolis on August 30, 1929.

 

Just two months after the Tower doors swung open, Wilbur Foshay's empire of public utilities, factories and banks crumbled to dust. A year and a half later he was convicted of fraud, and spent two years and eleven months in Leavenworth prison. Not surprisingly, John Philip Sousa never got paid for his commission. He considered giving it a new name: The Washington Memorial March, but then decided to withdraw the piece completely, and the music was not published or performed again officially until 1988.

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