Hands Across the Sea

From Wind Repertory Project
John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa (arr. Keith Brion and Loras John Schissel)

General Info

Year: 1899 / 1997
Duration: c. 2:50
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: C.L.Barnhouse
Cost: Score and Parts -$60.00   |   Score Only - $6.00

For further availability information, see Discussion tab, above.


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

  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Snare Drum


In Score and Parts:

  • Piccolo, m.2, beat 1 & 2: The printed F5 on these beats should be an A5
  • B-flat Cornet III-IV, m.84, beat 2: G should read F
  • E-flat Alto Saxophone, m.37: Pickup notes/rhythms back to m.22 should be the same as m.21 (maintain same octave as marked)

Program Notes

Hands Across the Sea, composed in 1899, might well be considered as Sousa’s farewell to the nineteenth century that had been so crucial to the evolution of the United States of America. The two final decades of that century had also been very good to Sousa, for in those years he emerged as a world-famous music personality. His magnificent band was one of the first American success stories in music, for it captured audiences wherever it played. Sousa, his band, and his thrilling marches spoke for all of us. Together they just might possibly have been the best ambassadors for the Republic since Benjamin Franklin. Hands Across the Sea could also have been Sousa’s sincerely confident and patriotic view of the years ahead at the dawn of what he hoped might be a bright new era for mankind.

The title of the march has the ring of history in it. Since Sousa was almost as fascinated by words as he was by music, this happy combination finds him joining one of his most mature and compelling marches with words to match, for the prophetic title was original with him.

There are, of course, as many ways to play Sousa marches as there are conductors to lead them, and no official “system” of performance was either provided or approved by him. Those many admirers among his players who subsequently conducted provided viable options, but Sousa’s approval on proofs for publication make them all that is ultimately correct.

- Program note by Frederick Fennell

When played for the first time by Sousa's Band in Philadelphia's Academy of Music on April 21, 1899, "many feet were beating a tattoo." The band was obliged to repeat it three times. Hands Across the Sea was off to a good start, and it has since remained a standard in band literature.

The march was addressed to no particular nation, but to all of America's friends abroad. It has been suggested that Sousa was inspired by an incident in the Spanish-American War in which Captain Chichester of the British Navy came to the support of Admiral Dewey at Manila Bay. A second (and more likely) source is a line by Frere, which was printed on the front cover of the music: "A sudden thought strikes me ... Let us swear an eternal friendship."

The line by Frere apparently appeared in a play which Sousa read. In answering questions sent to him while serving in the navy, he gave this account in the Great Lakes Recruit in March 1918:

After the Spanish War there was some feeling in Europe anent our republic regarding this war. Some of the nations ... thought we were not justified while others gave us credit for the honesty of our purpose. One night I was reading an old play and I came across this line, A sudden thought strikes me ... Let us swear an eternal friendship." This almost immediately suggested the title Hands across the Sea for that composition and within a few weeks that now famous march became a living fact.

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


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Louisiana at Lafayette Wind Ensemble (William J. Hochkeppel, conductor) - 16 February 2023
  • William Mason High School (Mason, Ohio) Wind Symphony (Edward F. Protzman, conductor) - 19 December 2022 (2022 Midwest Clinic)
  • University of North Texas (Denton) University Band (Dachuan Cao, conductor) - 10 October 2022
  • University of South Alabama (Mobile) Wind Ensemble (Matthew Greenwood, conductor) - 29 April 2021
  • Lakewood Ranch (Fla.) Wind Ensemble (Joseph Miller, Conductor) – 15 March 2020
  • Hoover (Ala.) High School Symphonic Winds (Sally Vines White, conductor) – 20 February 2020 (CBDNA 2020 Southern Division Conference, Natchitoches, La.)
  • Atascadero (Calif.) Community Band (Fletcher Ferrara, conductor) – 18 June 2019
  • Encore Winds (Traverse City, MI) (Timothy Topolewski, conductor) - 19 May 2019
  • Traverse City (Mich.) West Senior High Wind Ensemble (Chad Mielens, conductor) - 15 May 2019
  • Texas Tech University (Lubbock) Concert Band (Eric Allen, conductor) – 29 April 2019
  • Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association All-Southern 2019 High School Wind Ensemble (Chris Chapman, conductor) – 27 January 2019
  • Stephen F. Austin State University (Nacogdoches, Tx.) Symphonic Band (Chris Kaatz, conductor) - 14 November 2018
  • University of Colorado Boulder Concert Band (Matthew Dockendorf, conductor) – 22 October 2018
  • Gold Coast Wind Ensemble (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) (Michael Doty, conductor) – 21 October 2018
  • Interlochen Center for the Arts (Michigan) Adult Band Camp (Thomas Riccobono, conductor) - 13 August 2017
  • Charlotte (N.C.) Concert Band (Drew Carter, conductor) – 23 April 2017
  • Encore Winds (Traverse City, MI) (Timothy Topolewski, conductor) - 12 February 2017
  • University of North Texas (Denton) Symphonic Band (Dennis W. Fisher, conductor) – 7 February 2017
  • Virginia Grand Military Band (Alexandria) (Loras John Schissel, conductor) – 10 September 2016
  • Atascadero (Calif.) Community Band (Nathan Conrad, conductor) – 8 May 2016

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. 50.
  • Perusal score