Belle of Chicago, The

From Wind Repertory Project
John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa (ed. Frank Byrne)

General Info

Year: 1892 / 1999
Duration: c. 2:30
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Wingert-Jones
Cost: Score and Parts - $50.00   |   Score Only - $6.00


Full Score
Flute (Piccolo)
Oboe I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
Bassoon I-II
Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
Cornets (in Bb) I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbal
  • Snare Drum


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Sousa completed the band full score of The Belle of Chicago on July 23, 1892, in Washington, D.C. This date was precisely one week before his discharge from the Marine Corps to form his own civilian band, which, incidentally, was based in Chicago, so it is not at all surprising Sousa sought to curry favor with this Midwestern metropolis. Some have speculated the title was intended for Ada Blakely, wife of his new manager, David Blakely.

Upon forming his new band, one of the first major engagements was at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where his band was temporarily known as the “World’s Fair Band.” The reception was such that the band was invited back for a repeat engagement in 1893. Chicago would prove an important performance site for Sousa for many years, and reviews from the Chicago press were always important. An unidentified press clipping from the Sousa Band press books demonstrates that initial reaction to The Belle of Chicago was not everything Sousa might have hoped. What he intended as a salute to the ladies of Chicago received this stinging criticism from one writer: “Mr. Sousa evidently regards the Chicago belle as a powerful creature, with the swinging stride of a giant, a voice like a fog-horn, and feet like sugar-cured hams”.

This one negative review, while humorous, did not overshadow the fact this was one of Sousa’s best marches to date. The arresting four-bar introduction and the lean four-strain format (without breakup strain/dogfight/episode) is vigorous and exciting, with an irresistible momentum.

This new edition was prepared from the first published edition and the original holograph score. Sousa Band performance practices are incorporated to emulate a performance similar to those Sousa himself would have conducted.

- Program note by Senzoku Gakuen College of Music Blue Tie Wind Ensemble


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

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  • Bierley, P. (1973). John Philip Sousa: A Descriptive Catalog of His Works. University of Illinois Press; Urbana, pp. 34-35.