Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (1923)

From Wind Repertory Project
John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa

General Info

Year: 1923
Duration: c. 3:20
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Sam Fox
Cost: Score and Parts – Out of print.

For availability information, see Discussion tab, above.


Condensed Score
C Piccolo
D-flat 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
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Bass Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II-III
B-flat Regimental Trumpet
E-flat Horn or Alto I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Harp (optional)
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Orchestra Bells
  • Snare Drum
  • Tambourine
  • Triangle


In Parts:

  • Tenor Saxophone, m.16, beat 1-1&: D should read E-flat.
  • Trombone I-II, m.16 (12th bar of 1st strain), beat 3: Tie half note F to quarter note on beat 1 of the following measure.
  • Trombone I-II, m.22 (1st bar of 2nd strain): Add bar line between this and the following measure (2 half notes in each measure).
  • Drums & Bells, m.1: Common time signature should read Cut time.
  • Drums & Bells, m.1: Add "ff" dynamic.
  • Drums & Bells, m.5, upper line: Add "mf" dynamic.
  • Drums & Bells, m.7, upper line: Add "f" dynamic.
  • Harp, m.1: Common time signature should read Cut time.

Program Notes

Published in 1923, this concert-oriented march celebrates Sousa’s membership in the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (Shriners). His local chapter hosted the national convention in 1923 in Washington, D.C., and Sousa conducted a band of 6,200 members in Griffith Stadium, the largest group he ever conducted. Contemporary versions of the Janissary Band (Turkish royal bodyguards) are a vital part of colorful Shrine marching units, and this march was intended to recreate the musical style of this Turkish music. The “Jingling Johnny” or Turkish Crescent (a marching instrument with a pole hung with jingling bells), triangle, tambourine, and a heavy bass drum are highlighted, and we hear sudden fortissimo outbursts in the first section. This march is unique in that it includes a part for the harp.

- Program Note by Edward Harris

Nobles is unique among the American March King’s works: the first strain is in the key of B-Flat minor. It calls for triangle and tambourine as an integral part of the percussion texture, and it is basically alluding to “Turkish music”.

This music might more properly be called Janissary, for such was the name of the military bodyguard of Turkish sovereigns from the 15th and into the 19th century. It was the music of bands of the janissary which the Crusaders beheld with such fascination in their contacts with life in the Holy Land they sought to wrest from the Turks. Contemporary versions of the Janissary Band are a vital part of the colorful Shrine marching units seen in parades all over the country. Gaily costumed, bedecked with feather, sash, and sword, these units put out an oriental wail that is distinctly theirs.

Sousa was a Shriner and wrote this march for his friends in Washington. He conducted the première with an enormous band of 6200 Shriners in Washington’s Griffith’s baseball stadium.

- Program Note by David Holsinger

Befitting a person of his status and popularity, Sousa received awards and recognition from numerous organizations including colleges, Indian tribes and Masonic and service organizations. Sousa’s nephew sponsored him for membership in the Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine in Washington, D.C. in April 1922. He was named honorary director of the Almas Temple Shrine Band and was asked to compose this march which he dedicated to the organization. The following year, during the Shriners’ national convention, Sousa led a massed band of 6,200 Shriners in Washington, D.C.’s Griffith Stadium.

In 1923, Sousa recorded this march with his band on the Victor label. Although the Sousa Band made more than 1,770 recordings, Sousa led only three recording sessions. An early opponent of what he called “canned music," Sousa objected to the poor sound quality of early recordings, the promotion of recorded performances over live music, and the dearth of royalties paid to composers by the recording companies.

- Program Note by Russ Girsberger


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer

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  • Smith, Norman E. (1986). March Music Notes. Lake Charles, La.: Program Note Press, pp. 387.
  • Sousa, J. (1923). Nobles of the Mystic Shrine [score]. Sam Fox Publishing Co.: New York.