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Showing Off Before Company

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John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa

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Subtitle: A Mixture

General Info

Year: 1919
Duration: c. 18:45
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Manuscript
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


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None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

If Sousa‘s Band could be remembered for one unique number, it would probably ‘Showing Off before Company.” This humoresque exemplified Sousa’s superb showmanship and was one of his most sensational presentations.

The work was a revitalized version of Sousa's 1895 humoresque, The Band Came Back, and was used extensively in the earIy 1920s. As with The Band Came Back it was offered just after intermission. After the house was darkened, the curtain was drawn to reveal an empty stage. The musicians came to the front of the stage alone or in groups, each playing a familiar selection in a manner which displayed individual and collective talents. The audience was kept in a stage of expectancy for a full twenty minutes until Sousa made his appearance in the finale.

The music and the order changed from year to year. Therefore no particular routine could be called Showing Off before Company exclusively. Sousa once explained his reasons for putting this humoresque together:

“I arranged that for two reasons. First of all, it gave all of my band members a chance for an individual appearance and a bit of individual applause, and then it gives them a certain amount of self-confidence too— it takes away that self-consciousness a soloist feels at first.

“And then I had another reason. People who do not know a great deal about the techniques of music, yet enjoy it greatly, are often very curious as to the tonal qualities of certain instruments, and the manner of playing them. When the band as a whole is playing, it is impossible to tell the lay listeners to distinguish the individual voices of the instruments, and often they cannot see how those in the rear rows are played. After they hear this musical mixture they will always be able to hunt through the medley of sounds that make up the whole and pick out the individual’s work.”

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

A modern performance by the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, Wind Ensemble did not limit itself to Sousa-era tunes. Ensemble sections showed off by playing composers as diverse as Shostakovich and John Williams, the Muppets to Tchaikovsky, a percussion ensemble on wooden stools, capped off with a jazzy unconducted version of Semper Fidelis.

- Program Note by Dave Strickler


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State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of North Carolina, Greensboro, Wind Ensemble (John R. Locke, conductor) – 20 October 2016

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Sousa, J. [1919]. Showing Off Before Company. Sousa Preservation Project, Sousa Archives for Band Research, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.