Free Lance March, The

From Wind Repertory Project
John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa (ed. William Revelli)

Subtitle: On to Victory

General Info

Year: 1906 / 1981
Duration: c. 4:10
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Jenson Publications through Hal Leonard
Cost: Score and Parts - $60.00   |   Score Only - $15.00


Full Score
C Piccolo/Flute
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II-III
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Percussion I-II, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Snare Drum


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

In his years with the University of Michigan band, Dr. Revelli used this edition of The Free Lance to thrill audiences the world over. It retains the dignity and grandeur of the original, but adds that special 'Revelli touch' that will make this great march a new classic.

- Program Note from publisher

People are usually aware of Sousa’s prodigious creation of marches, but they are generally unaware of the vast array of suites, songs, waltzes, humoresques, and arrangements he produced. The Free Lance was one of 15 operettas. The title comes from Middle Age knights with lances who were independent and could choose for whom they would work.

First produced in 1905, the story does stretch belief. The bankrupt kingdoms of Braggadocia and Graftiana, each seeking the other kingdom's wealth, sought a marriage of their daughter and son, respectively. The Prince and Princess, unhappy with the proposed marriage, run away independently. The kingdoms force Griselda, a goose girl, to impersonate the Princess. A goatherd, Sigmund, would take the Prince’s place in the ceremony. Since these two happen to be already husband and wife, they see no problem in the arrangement. After the ceremony, each country discovers the poverty of the other and war is declared. Meanwhile, the real Prince and Princess meet each other, disguised as peasants, and fall in love. Sigmund arranges to hire himself out to each country as a “free lance” soldier. He cleverly manipulates the battle so that neither side can win and a truce is called. He demands a ransom from each country, which cannot be met, so he proclaims himself as ruler of both countries. The true Prince and Princess are too much in love to care about ruling.

In 1906, Sousa utilized the song On to Victory as the central theme for The Free Lance March, incorporating many other musical motifs from the operetta. This was the only march Sousa composed that year, because he devoted significant time and effort into campaigning for composers’ royalties on recordings. This effort formed a foundation for our current copyright laws.

- Program Note by Foothill Symphonic Winds

The Free Lance March, taken from Sousa's operetta of the same name, has a lengthy and unorthodox construction when compared with most other Sousa marches. There are so many spirited march tunes in the operetta that perhaps Sousa felt obligated to include most of them when piecing together the march. Actually, there were enough for two separate marches.

The trio of the march corresponds to the song On the Victory in the operetta, and some editions of the march were published under that title.

- Program Notes from John Philip Sousa: A Descriptive Catalog of His Works


(Needed - please join the WRP if you can help.)

State Ratings

  • Kansas: IV


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Illinois (Champaign/Urbana) Hindsley Symphonic Band (Kimberly Fleming, conductor) - 7 October 2022
  • Interlochen Center for the Arts (Michigan) Adult Band Camp (Thomas Riccobono, conductor) - 14 August 2022
  • Shepherd University (Shepherdstown, W.V.) Wind Ensemble (Scott Hippensteel, conductor) - 23 April 2021
  • Lee University (Cleveland, Tenn.) Wind Ensemble (David Holsinger, conductor) – 19 November 2019
  • Plainville (Conn.) Wind Ensemble (Ken Bagley, conductor) – 8 June 2019
  • Texas A&M University (College Station) Wind Symphony (Timothy Rhea, conductor) - 14 February 2019 (2019 TMEA Conference, San Antonio)
  • University of Michigan Symphony Band (Michael Haithcock, conductor) – 2 October 2015
  • Kearsarge Community Band (New London, N.H.) (Nola Aldrich, conductor) - 8 March 2015
  • Foothill Symphonic Winds (Palo Alto, Calif.) (David Bruce Adams, conductor) - 8 March 2015
  • New Horizons Band, Brasstown Valley, Ga. - 2013

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Bierley, P. (1973). John Philip Sousa: A Descriptive Catalog of His Works. University of Illinois Press; Urbana, pp. 45.
  • Sousa, J.; Revelli, W. (1981). Free Lance March: On to Victory [score]. Jenson Publications: [New Berlin, Wisc.]