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Commemorating John Philip Sousa's 150th

Sheet music for 'The Washington Post March,' written by Sousa in 1889.
Sheet music for 'The Washington Post March,' written by Sousa in 1889.

NPR's Scott Simon speaks with Performance Today host Fred Child about the life and music of John Philip Sousa, "the March King." Sousa was born in Washington, D.C., 150 years ago.

Sousa is perhaps best known for the march "Stars and Stripes Forever," but he also wrote waltzes and other classical pieces in addition to marches.

Another of Sousa's more famous tunes is "The Washington Post March" -- named after the oldest newspaper serving the nation's capital. What isn't widely known is that the newspaper commissioned Sousa to write the piece in 1889 to promote an essay contest it was sponsoring.

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Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
Fred Child
Fred Child is a commentator for NPR and the host of American Public Media's Performance Today.
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