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Washington Post, The (arr Carnahan)

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John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa (arr. John Alan Carnahan)

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General Info

Year: 1889 / 2008
Duration: c. 2:35
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: John Alan Carnahan
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


Full Score
C Piccolo/ Flute I
Flute II (optional)
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III-IV
E-flat Horn or Alto I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Snare Drum


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

This march was written in 1889 to help promote an essay contest sponsored by the newspaper of the same name. With Sousa conducting, it was premiered by the U.S. Marine Band during the distribution of the essay prizes on the Smithsonian Museum grounds in Washington, D.C. The 6/8 march happened to be appropriate for a new dance called the two-step and soon became the most popular tune in both America and Europe. Although he received only $25 for its publication, Sousa was quickly inundated with requests for more marches. Of his 136 marches, The Washington Post and The Stars and Stripes Forever have been the most widely known. With a (2012) circulation of 719,000 (on Sunday), The Washington Post newspaper is also still well known.

-Program Note from Program Notes for Band

During the 1880s, several Washington, D.C., newspapers competed vigorously for public favor. One of these, the Washington Post, organized what was known as the Washington Post Amateur Authors’ Association and sponsored an essay contest for school children. Frank Hatton and Beriah Wilkins, owners of the newspaper, asked Sousa, then leader of the Marine Band, to compose a march for the award ceremony. The ceremony was held on the Smithsonian grounds on June 15, 1889. President Harrison and other dignitaries were among the huge crowd. When the new march was played by Sousa and the Marine Band, it was enthusiastically received, and within days it became exceptionally popular in Washington.

The march happened to be admirably suited to the two-step dance, which was just being introduced. A dancemasters’ organization adopted it at their yearly convention, and soon the march was vaulted into international fame. The two-step gradually replaced the waltz as a popular dance, and variations of the basic two-step ensured the march’s popularity all through the 1890s and into the twentieth century. Sousa’s march became identified with the two-step, and it was as famous abroad as it was in the United States. In some European countries, all two-steps were “Washington Posts.” Pirated editions of the music appeared in many foreign countries. In Britain, for example, it was such names as No Surrender and 'Washington Greys.

Next to The Stars and Stripes, The Washington Post has been Sousa's most widely known march. He delighted in telling how he had heard it in so many different countries, played in so many ways -- and often accredited to native composers. It was a standard at Sousa Band performances and was often openly demanded when not scheduled for a program. It was painful for Sousa to relate that, like Semper Fidelis and other marches of that period, he received only $35 for it, while the publisher made a fortune. Of that sum, $25 was for a piano arrangement, $5 a band arrangement, and $5 for an orchestra arrangement.

Today, at a community room in Washington, a spotlight illuminates a life-size color portrait of the black-bearded Sousa, resplendent in his scarlet Marine Band uniform. This is the John Philip Sousa Community Room in the Washington Post Building. It is the newspaper’s tribute the man who first gave it worldwide fame.

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

The Washington Post newspaper claims in its history that this march was written as a tribute to the newspaper and performed by Sousa and his band in 1899. But of course, the work dates to 1889; moreover, the Washington Post in the march’s title referred to the Marine contingent posted in the nation’s capital at the time, not to the newspaper. It is true that Sousa performed the march at ceremonies held in 1899 by the newspaper, and the work’s title was obviously fitting for the occasion.

This march has been among Sousa’s most popular for years, considered by many his best known after Stars and Stripes. The Washington Post opens with a brief, typically Sousian fanfare, then presents one of the composer’s most familiar tunes. It struts proudly upward in its first half, then steps jauntily downward in its latter portion. The second subject has a carefree spirit in its more mellow instrumentation and lively bounce, A variant of the main theme appears in the latter half and combines both the celebratory character of the opening with the more carefree temperament of the secondary material. The music grows bigger and more colorful near the close and ends with a robust sense of triumph.

- Program Note from California State University, Long Beach Wind Symphony concert program, 3 March 2016

Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.

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. 78.
  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 556.