Sousa Presidential Polonaise

Harry Coleman, Philadelphia, 1894. In 1880, the Marine Band’s most well-known leader, John Philip Sousa, took command of the band. Sousa himself stated, "The Marine Band is virtually the National Band and the band that should be as great among bands as America is among nations." Under Sousa, the Marine Band’s fame increased, and the leader of the Marine Band began fulfilling an even more active role as White House Music Advisor. During Chester Arthur’s administration, Sousa was questioned by the President about the music that the Marine Band had played as he went into dinner. Sousa replied, " 'Hail to the Chief,' sir." (Sousa recorded later that "Hail to the Chief" had been performed at the White House "since time immemorial.") President Arthur continued, "Do you consider it suitable?" Sousa replied, "No, sir. It was chosen many years ago largely because of its name." President Arthur replied, "Then change it!" Sousa did so by composing "Presidential Polonaise" for indoor affairs and "Semper Fidelis" for outdoor affairs. Sousa’s Presidential Polonaise was used for a time but never fully replaced "Hail to the Chief" and was eventually dropped.
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