Hands Across the Sea (arr Fennell)

From Wind Repertory Project
John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa (arr. Frederick Fennell)

General Info

Year: 1899 / 1982
Duration: c. 2:30
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Theodore Presser
Cost: Score and Parts - $65.00   |   Score Only - $5.50


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

  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Field Drum
  • Snare Drum


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

When Sousa’s new march Hands Across the Sea was played for the first time by Sousa and his band at Philadelphia’s Academy of Music on April 21, 1899, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that “many feet were beating a tattoo.” The band was obliged to repeat it three times. After that successful beginning, the march has become a standard in band literature.

Sousa wrote these remarks concerning Hands Across the Sea 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 the line, ‘A sudden thought strikes me -- let us swear an eternal friendship.’ That 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 Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music

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


State Ratings

  • Kansas: IV


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