Sousa’s Unfinished March

Classical composer Franz Schubert lived from 1797 to 1828. During his lifetime, Schubert composed many works including seven complete symphonies. His eighth symphony was begun in 1822, but not finished. By the time Schubert died, he had completed two movements of this composition and two other fragments of movements which may or may not have been intended to be part of it. No one knows exactly why the composer failed to complete this work.

At the time of his death, Franz Schubert was only thirty-one years old and had completed a large catalog of other work including the seven symphonies, sacred music, operas, incidental music and a great deal of piano and chamber music. The completed work was named Schubert’s Symphony No. 8, D 759 (D 759 indicating its order in the Deutsche catalog of Franz Schubert works), and is commonly known as Schubert’s “Unfinished Symphony.”

John Philip Sousa – Image credit Brittanica.com

John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) composed hundreds of pieces during his long and celebrated career. However, the great composer likewise left at least one work in progress at the time of his death. It was subsequently named the “Library of Congress March.” Sousa had been at work on it when he died. The bandleader and composer left unfinished manuscript sketches, a piano draft and incomplete orchestrations of the work.

In 2003, some 72 years after Sousa’s death, United States Marine Band staff arranger and composer Stephen Bulla was engaged to complete the work, having spent much time with Sousa’s other compositions over the years. To the best of our knowledge, the unfinished piece was not named by Sousa himself, but was given its name in consideration for the time that Sousa had spent at Washington, D. C.’s Library of Congress.

The newly completed march was first performed at the Library of Congress on May 6, 2003. Sousa’s grandson, John Philip Sousa IV, was in attendance.

Sousa/Bulla “Library of Congress March” – Youtube.


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