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Artists do not create in a vacuum. They reflect their times or at the very least
are affected by the lives they lead which are also influenced by the public
sphere. The term for this reflection is "Zeitgeist." It literally means"spirit of the times." John Philip Sousa and his works can be classified
under this term of "Zeitgeist." Most of Sousa's music was composed during
a period known as the gilded age. This period is known for its gross materialism
and blatant political corruption in the United States. However, Sousa's music
does not seem to reflect this corruption, but rather it reflects a way to deal
with the corruption and mishaps of the times. John Philip Sousa, also known as
the "March King," was born on November 6,1854, in Washington D.C., near the
marine barracks where his father, Antonio, was a musician in the marine band.
He received his grammar school education in Washington and for several of his
school years enrolled in a private conservatory of music operated by John Esputa,
Jr. . There he studied piano and most of the orchestral instruments, but his
main passion was the violin. He became very good at the violin, and at age 13 he
was almost persuaded to join a circus band . As a young boy, the martial music
of army bands in the streets of Washington during and immediately following the
Civil War had a profound effect on him. When he was not yet fourteen he enlisted
in the Marine Corps and succeeded in becoming a member of the marine band . This...