White Rose, The (1917)

From Wind Repertory Project
John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa

General Info

Year: 1917 / 2019
Duration: c. 3:20
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Piano
Publisher: U.S. Marine Band
Cost: Score and Parts (digital) – Free.

For availability information, see Discussion tab, above.


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 (optional)
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
E-flat Cornet (optional)
B-flat Cornet Solo-I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Snare Drum


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The White Rose March was written in 1917 to commemorate White Rose Day during the Flower Festival in York, Pennsylvania. The white rose is the emblem of the House of York in England, for which the town was named. The commission stipulated that the march be based on themes from the opera Nittaunis, composed by local banker Charles C. Frick. Sousa’s original contributions likely included the introduction and the break strain, with the remaining themes orchestrated by Sousa.

- Program note by Karen Berry for the San Jose Wind Symphony concert program, 27 January 2013

At a concert by the Sousa Band in York, Pennsylvania, a civic committee requested this Sousa march. The march was to be used at the York Flower Festival, commemorating White Rose Day. The white rose is the emblem of the House of York, in England, from which York, Pennsylvania, took its name. The White Rose Day celebration was cancelled, owing to priorities of World War I. Nevertheless, Sousa's march was played at a public concert by combined bands and given some measure of publicity in a recording by the Victor Talking Machine Company. It never became popular, however. By request, Sousa incorporated several themes from the opera Nittaunis, composed by York banker C.C. Frick.

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

It was commonly thought that John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) would write the enduring war song for America’s entry into World War I. However, that did not occur. His famous U.S. Field Artillery March or The Caissons Go Rolling Along of 1917 was based upon a Civil War tune, and his The White Rose, also of 1917, achieved only mild popularity.

Sousa’s own compositional contribution to the The White Rose probably consisted only of the introduction and break-up strain. The surviving full score fragment in Sousa’s hand consists of merely a few bars of the break-up strain. It is most likely that the first and second strain melodies and the trio were melodies composed by C.C. Frick and subsequently orchestrated by Sousa.

Today, The White Rose is recognized as a “found gem” in Sousa’s marches. But whatever the sources, Sousa combined with Frick’s compositions to create one of his jolliest and most rollicking marches, This music is truly fun to play and so delicious to enjoy. It has the barrelhouse exuberance, abandon and bounce of great polkas.

- Program Note from Musashino Academia Musicae Wind Ensemble concert program, December 20, 2018

Of particular note in this march is Sousa’s brilliant use of a staccato countermelody in the upper winds for the trio section, which provides a satisfying contrast to the lyrical main theme.

- Program Note from U.S. Marine Band concert program, 18 August 2021


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • United States Marine Band (Washington, D.C.) (Bryan P. Sherlock, conductor) - 19 August 2021

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. 79.
  • Sousa, J. (1917). The White Rose March: Built on Themes from C.C. Fricks's Nittaunis [score]. Harms & Francis, Day & Hunter: [s.l.].