Liberty Bell, The (arr Helmecke)

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John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa (arr. Helmecke)

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General Info

Year: 1893 / 1951
Duration: c. 4:00
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: John Church Co.

Cost: Score and Parts – Out of print


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None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

This march was composed in 1893 and within one year was published for piano solo, piano duet, orchestra, band, banjo, guitar, mandolin, and zither. The title resulted from (1) Sousa and his manager seeing a huge painting of the Liberty Bell during a show in Chicago, (2) a letter from Sousa's wife the next morning telling how their son had marched in a Philadelphia parade honoring the Liberty Bell, and (3) Sousa's unashamed patriotism, which predisposed him toward any title with a nationalistic ring -- he was sometimes called the Pied Piper of Patriotism. As his first march published on a royalty basis, The Liberty Bell march netted Sousa $40,000 in less than seven years. Later in his life he told Herbert L. Clarke that he had spent some $15 million on band transportation and $13 million on salaries. And yet he died a very wealthy man.

-Program Note from Program Notes for Band

For $500 more, this march probably would have been named The Devil's Deputy. Sousa was composing music for an operetta of that name at the request of the famous comedian Francis Wilson. Sousa asked $1500 for the work, but Wilson offered $1000. When they could not come to an agreement, Sousa withdrew his partially completed manuscript, which included a lively march.

Sousa and George Frederick Hinton, one of the band's managers, were in Chicago witnessing a spectacle called America when a backdrop, with a huge painting of the Liberty Bell, was lowered. Hinton suggested the The Liberty Bell would be a good title for Sousa's new march. By coincidence, the next morning Sousa received a letter from his wife in which she told him that their son had marched in his first parade in Philadelphia -- a parade honoring the return of the Liberty Bell, which had been on tour. The new march was then christened The Liberty Bell. It was one of the first marches Sousa sold to the John Church Company and was the first composition to bring Sousa a substantial financial reward.

According to a story told by the Sousa Band's first soprano, Marcella Lindh, she contributed one of the themes of the march. Sousa had heard her whistling a catchy tune of her own and had asked her permission to incorporate it into one of his marches. Several years later she heard The Liberty Bell march being performed by a band in Europe and recognized her own melody in the march.

- Program Note from John Philip Sousa: An Annotated Catalog of His Works

This march is better known in the public mind than most other Sousa marches because of its use as theme music by the British comedy troupe Monty Python.


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State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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  • Peninsula Symphonic Band (Palo Alto, Calif.) (Jason McChristian, conductor) - 16 August 2015

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music. "John Philip Sousa." Accessed 16 August 2015.
  • Bierley, P. (1973) John Philip Sousa: An Annotated Catalog of His Works. Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, p. 56-57.
  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 554.
  • Sousa, J.; Helmecke, A. (1951). The Liberty Bell: March [score]. John Church: Bryn Mawr, Penn.