The Penn Band & John Philip Sousa

The Penn Band & John Philip Sousa

Photo credit: University Archives

He was America’s “March King,” so it was only fitting that John Philip Sousa paid several visits to the well-regarded Penn Band back in the day.

Sousa actually conducted the band a few times, including the performance pictured here, on the Quad, on Nov. 21, 1930. Though the famed bandleader conducted the Penn Band through his own compositions, he also led a performance of “The University of Pennsylvania Band March,” composed by Roland F. Seitz. Afterwards, Sousa was quoted as saying: “That is one of the best band marches, aside from my own productions, I have ever conducted.” In fact, Sousa was so impressed by the Penn Band that, at a luncheon in his honor after the performance, he suggested commemorating his next march to the musicians. Before this could happen, however, he died after a band rehearsal in Reading, Pa. The last composition he ever led? His very own—”The Stars and Stripes Forever.”

For more on this and other notable moments in Penn history, go to the University Archives web site at

Originally published on November 1, 2007