Stars and Stripes Forever, The (arr Helmecke)

From Wind Repertory Project
John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa (arr. Helmecke)

General Info

Year: 1896 / 1951
Duration: c. 3:25
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Theodore Presser
Cost: Score and Parts - $25.00

For availability information, see Discussion tab, above.


Full Score
D-flatt Piccolo
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 Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Bass Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Snare Drum
  • Side Drum


In Parts:

  • E-flat Alto Saxophone I, 2nd strain (3rd system), m.4, b.2: Quarter note should read dotted quarter note.
  • E-flat Alto Saxophone I, Trio (5th system), m.22, b.2: Quarter note should read dotted quarter note.
  • E-flat Alto Saxophone I, 4th strain (dogfight), m.8, b.2, last eighth note: C should read B-flat.
  • E-flat Alto Saxophone I, 4th strain (dogfight), m.12, b.22, last eighth note: D should read C.
  • E-flat Alto Saxophone II, 4th strain (dogfight), m.8, b.22, last eighth note: C should read B-flat.
  • E-flat Alto Saxophone II, 4th strain (dogfight), m.12, b.2, last eighth note: D should read C.

Program Notes

Sousa consistently stated that this march was divinely inspired and was born of homesickness. In his autobiography, Marching Along, he provides the details of its creation after he had received a cablegram in Italy that his manager, David Blakely, had died:

“Aboard the Teutonic, as it steamed out of the harbor on my return from Europe in 1896, came one of the most vivid incidents of my career. As I paced the deck, absorbed in thought, suddenly I began to sense the rhythmic beat of a band playing within my brain. It kept on ceaselessly, playing, playing, playing. Throughout the whole tense voyage, that imaginary band continued to unfold the same themes, echoing and reechoing the most distinct melody. I did not transfer a note of that music to paper while I was on the steamer, but when we reached the shore, I set down the measures that my brain-band had been playing for me, and not a note of it has ever changed. The composition is known the world over as The Stars and Stripes Forever and is probably my most popular march.” (By permission of John Philip Sousa, Inc., New York City)

Paul Bierley states that The Stars and Stripes Forever is “by far the most popular march ever written, and its popularity is by no means limited to the United States.” A ten-year international march popularity survey confirms Bierley’s statement. The universal appeal of Sousa’s march is illustrated by an article in The New York Times by Harold Schonberg which tells of a tour to China by Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1973. After sitting politely but stonily through a program which ranged from Beethoven to Copland, the orchestra struck up The Stars and Stripes. “All of a sudden electricity permeated the hall. Faces broke into smiles; feet began tapping; there was a general air of understanding and happiness. Maybe,... (it) really is the greatest piece of music ever written by an American. In any case, it has made more friends for America than any other piece of music...”

-Program Note from Program Notes for Band

Sousa explained to the press that the three themes of the final trio were meant to typify the three sections of the United States. The broad melody, or main theme, represents the North. The South is represented by the famous piccolo obbligato, and the West by the bold countermelody of the trombones.

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

The authentic original composition by John Philip Sousa, with special drum arrangements by August Helmecke, drum virtuoso of the Sousa Band.

-Program Note from score


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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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. 72.
  • Rehrig, William. "The Stars and Stripes Forever: America's National March." ACB Journal, October 2021, pp. 9-11.
  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications, pp. 555-556.
  • Sousa, J. (1951). The Stars and Stripes Forever [score]. John Church Co.: [s.l.]