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Program Notes

Dwellers of the Western World

Suite (1911)

John Philip Sousa, composer

It was 100 years ago that Sousa took his band on their one and only tour ’round the world. Sousa wrote this as a means of acquainting his audiences in Europe, South Africa and Australia/New Zealand about the unique nature of the United States as a country and a culture that had been formed by the melding of three “races” of people. The first movement, “The Red Man,” is prefaced by a quotation from Longfellow’s The Song of Hiawatha and it represents a somewhat naive musical picture of the native Americans that were here when the Europeans arrived. The second movement, “The White Man,” is prefaced by a quotation from the poem Columbus by Joaquin Miller, and concludes with a musical quotation from an anthem that Sousa wrote entitled The Messiah of Nations — it depicts the settling of the US with the building of the great cities, industry, railroads, etc. The final movement, “The Black Man,” is prefaced by a quote from Paul Dunbar’s poem A Banjo Song, and it is one of Sousa’s most catching ragtime tributes. The suite was played by the Sousa Band throughout the world tour and was well received.

—Mark Rogers, June 2011

This three-movement suite depicts the three major races who occupied the Western World: first, American Indians; then, white settlers from Western Europe; and finally, the great energy of the African population who followed. Each are represented by music that would have been thought to be characteristic in 1910. The “White Man” music depicts the settling and building of America. It is crowned with a grand symphonic setting of Sousa’s religious anthem “Oh thou American, Messiah of Nations.” The suite was composed in anticipation of Sousa’s celebrated year-long 1911 round-the-world tour, and was well received in each country where the band visited.

Keith Brion

INDEX


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