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Free Lance March, The (1906)

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John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa

Subtitle: On to Victory

General Info

Year: 1905
Duration: c. 4:00
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: John Church
Cost: Score and Parts – Out of print.

For availability information, see Discussion tab, above.


Full Score
C Piccolo
D-flat Piccolo
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Saxophone
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Cornet Solo-I-II-III
E-flat Horn or Alto I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
B-flat Tenor I-II
Trombone I-II-III
Drums, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Snare Drum


  • Piccolo in C. 11 m. after Trio (2/4 meter change), beat 2: E-flat–F should read F–G.
  • Flutes in C. 11 m. after Trio (2/4 meter change), beat 2: E-flat–F should read F–G.

Program Notes

John Philip Sousa loved the musical theater and spent a great amount of his time and energy composing operettas in the style of England’s famed Gilbert and Sullivan. Noted Sousa scholar Paul Bierley even suggested that had Sousa not become the Director of the United States Marine Band, a career decision that determined the path of the remainder of his life, Sousa would probably have spent his entire career in musical theater. He composed fifteen operettas beginning with Katherine in 1879.

In 1905 he collaborated with librettist Harry Smith to create his twelfth operetta, The Free Lance, a fun-filled story of a clever and enterprising goatherd named Sigmund Lump who hired himself out as the mercenary leader of two warring kingdoms that were trying to double cross each other by substituting commoners for royal offspring in an arranged marriage. Skillfully orchestrating the two opposing armies into a stalemate, he demands payment from both kingdoms. When neither can pay, Lump declares himself ruler of both.

The operetta, filled with numerous lively march tunes, was well received and had a run of seven months. Sousa deftly combined themes from various musical numbers in the operetta to compose his march The Free Lance. In it, Sousa makes a change of time signature from the opening six-eight meter to a two-four meter in the trio, an interesting effect he used in only a handful of his other marches.

The trio of the march corresponds to the song On the Victory in the operetta, and some editions of the march were published under that title.

- Program Note from U.S. Marine Band concert program, 17 August 2016


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer

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  • Bierley, P. (1973). John Philip Sousa: A Descriptive Catalog of His Works. University of Illinois Press; Urbana, pp. 45.
  • Sousa, J. (1906). The Free Lance March [score]. John Church Co.: [Cincinnati, O.]