The Sousa Band Comes To Town

The Sousa Band made a few trips to Newport during the bands long tenure. The Band’s 1899 United States tour included a stop at the Opera House in Newport, Rhode Island, on May 15. Below is a photo of the Opera House in Washington Square, taken in 1905.

(Detroit Publishing Co., Copyright Claimant, and Publisher Detroit Publishing Co. Opera House, Newport, R.I. Newport Newport. Rhode Island United States, ca. 1905. Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/2016804666/.)

The first article in the paper comes to us from the New Daily News, on May 6. (This was most likely not the first mention of the concert, but it is our first article for this post.)

Newport Daily News (May 6, 1899)

Along with the two featured soloists, Sousa’s band would be performing their newest composition, Hands across the Sea.

Hear Sousa’s Band, conducted by Arthur Pryor, perform the march in 1899:
Hand across the Sea, Library of Congress

The next article, from the May 10 Daily News talks a little about what a Sousa concert would be! Notice how the marches we all know and love today are encores, played between “some of the newest music of the day, and a number of standard favorites.” There will be an opportunity to see what could have been the band’s program further down the page.

Newport Daily News (May 10, 1899)

Sousa had two soloists accompanying his band for the 1899 tour. Violinist Dorothy Hoyle, it seems, was familiar to the Newport crowd. The Library of Congress has a 1902 recording of her performing with Sousa’s Band. Click on the record below to hear!

The advertisement below first appeared in the Newport Daily News on May 12, and appeared every day up until the show.

Newport Daily News (May 12, 1899)

The other featured soloist was soprano Maud Reese Davies. The Library of Congress has these two photos of her. In one we see her walking on train track with John Philip Sousa.

The city, and the Newport Daily News, loved the concert! While a little hard to read, you can click on the pages and enlarge them to make them easier on the eyes!

Want to read more about this tour, and the travels of the Sousa Band? Thankfully the “President’s Own”, United States Marine Band has the archives of Press Books the Band kept of their tours from 1892 to 1932. Below are the pages with clips from the Newport Herald talking about the 1899 tour. These pages include a few programs from other towns, but give you an idea of what they would have performed in Newport.

For a complete list of all of the scrapbooks click on the photo of Sousa below!

And in case you were wondering if it was all fun and games on a Sousa tour, here is a photo of the band’s train involved in a crash while traveling from Portland, Oregon to Spokane, Washington during the 1899 tour!

Unknown. Sousa Band train involved in head-on collision en route from Portland to Spokane. , 1899. Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/sousa.200031548/.

Published by stickneymusic

Dr. Mark Stickney currently serves as the Artistic Director of the Seacoast Wind Ensemble, in Kittery, Maine. He has 20 years of teaching experience at the college level in music education and performance. He has presented at conferences and guest conducted throughout the United States.

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