Hands Across the Sea (arr. Goldhammer)

From Wind Repertory Project
John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa (arr. Siegmund Goldhammer)

General Info

Year: 1899 / 1996
Duration: c. 2:50
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: KOCH Musikverlag GmbH
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - €54.90


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone I-II
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III-IV
B-flat Flugelhorn I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Horn in E-flat I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III-IV
Tuba I-II
Percussion I-II-II (5 players), including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Glockenspiel
  • Snare Drums (2)


None discovered thus far.

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


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State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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  • Bierley, P. (1973). John Philip Sousa: A Descriptive Catalog of His Works. University of Illinois Press; Urbana, pp. 50.