The Washington Post (march)

From Academic Kids

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"The Washington Post"* is a patriotic march composed by John Philip Sousa in 1889. Since then, it has remained as one of his most popular marches throughout the United States and many countries abroad.



In 1889 owners of the Washington Post newspaper requested the then-current leader of the Marine Band to compose a march for the newspaper's essay contest awards ceremony. Sousa obliged, and it was first performed on June 15, 1889 at the ceremony, and was an instant hit. Many have argued that this march brought the once-average newspaper instant fame and attention. It led to a British journalist dubbing him "The March King." Sousa is honored in the Washington Post building for his contribution to the newspaper and his country.


This recognizable march is written in standard form: IAABBCCDCDC. Written in 6/8 meter, it is suited as an accompaniment to the two-step, a new dance introduced in its time.


The first strain of the march (above) is famous and familiar to many. The march is played in a stately march tempo (110-120 beats/m; rarely over).

Although the trio melody is rarely remembered or recognized, march enthusiasts have argued that its mellow and moving phrases are amongst Sousa's most musical. Six sudden eighth notes move the melody along, and its unusually calm breakstrain is a simple adaptation of the trio melody. It then moves on to the first trio repeat, where the low brass begins an even more mellow countermelody.

Other Notes

"The Washington Post" is one of Sousa's most played works. It is performed widely by concert and marching bands alike; it is considered to be an essential piece for band literature.

The title of the piece appears variously in recordings, programs, etc. as The Washington Post, The Washington Post March, or simply as Washington Post. It may not really be meaningful to ask which of these is the correct title. However, as a trivia point, the original sheet music is headed

The Washington Post.

Title as shown in sheet music
Title as shown in sheet music

on two separate lines with a period after each line. The original handwritten Sousa manuscript ( shows a similar format, and the cover of the sheet music as shown above, is an artistic rendering of a newspaper page headed "The Washington Post," with the words "March by John Philip Sousa" appearing separately at the bottom. All of this suggests that Sousa and his publishers thought of the title as being The Washington Post (with the word "the"), and "March" as simply being a description.

The march was also featured in the 1978 blockbuster Animal House, during the homecoming parade.

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