King Cotton

From Wind Repertory Project
John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa

General Info

Year: 1895
Duration: c. 4:00
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Theodore Presser Company
Cost: Score & Parts - $25.00   


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I
Bassoon I
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, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Cymbals (crash)
  • Side Drum/Snare Drum


  • B-flat Tenor saxophone. 6th system (Trio), meas. 5, beat 6: C should read B-flat.

Program Notes

It is a curious fact of the music world that marches written for fairs and expositions almost always fade into oblivion. Two notable exceptions are Sousa's King Cotton and The Fairest of the Fair. The former was written for the Cotton States Exposition of 1895, and the latter for the Boston Food Fair of 1908.

Sousa and his band had great drawing power at fairs and expositions and were much sought after. But officials at the Cotton States Exposition in Atlanta attempted to cancel their three-week contract with the Sousa Band because of serious financial difficulties. At Sousa's insistence, they honored their contract, and at the first concert they became aware of their shortsightedness. Atlanta newspapers carried rave reviews of the band's performance. For example:

"...The band is a mascot. It has pulled many exhibitions out of financial ruts. It actually saved the Midwinter Fair in San Francisco. Recently at the St. Louis and Dallas expositions Sousa's Band proved an extraordinary musical attraction, and played before enormous audiences. It is safe to predict that history will repeat itself in Atlanta, and that the band will do the Exposition immense good. A great many people in South Carolina, Atlanta and Georgia have postponed their visit to the Exposition so as to be here during Sousa's engagement, and these people will now begin to pour in.

"Sousa's latest march, King Cotton, has proved a winner. It has been heard from one end of Dixie to the other and has aroused great enthusiasm and proved a fine advertisement for the Exposition."

The Sousa Band did indeed bring the Exposition out of the red, and the same officials who tried to cancel Sousa's engagement pleaded with him to extend it. King Cotton was named the official march of the Exposition, and it has since become one of the perennial Sousa favorites.

- 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

  • Indiana University at South Bend Wind Ensemble (Dennis Gamble, conductor) - 16 November 2022
  • Michigan State University (East Lansing) Campus Band (Rebekah Daniel, conductor) - 18 February 2020
  • Croswell-Lexington High School Symphonic Band (Croswell, Mich.) (Kevin R. Czarnik, conductor) - 18 December 2019
  • Downriver Community Band (Detroit, Mich.) (Patrick Jensen, conductor) – 23 April 2019 (ACB 2019 Annual Convention (Woodcliff Lake, N.J.))
  • Amador County Concert Band (Pine Grove, Calif.) (Steve Chambers, conductor) – 27 August 2017
  • Indiana University (Bloomington) Summer Concert Band (Stephen W. Pratt, conductor) – 21 June 2017
  • Gold Coast Wind Ensemble (Clinton H. Dawley, conductor) - 24 November 2013
  • High School Concert Band [Interlochen, Mich.] (Frederick Fennell, conductor) - 20 August 1982

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. 55-56.