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Thunderer, The (1889)

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John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa

General Info

Year: 1889
Duration: c. 2:45
Difficulty: III (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Carl Fischer
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $35.00

For availability information, see Discussion tab, above.


Full Score
C Piccolo/Flute
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet (optional)
B-flat Bass Clarinet (optional)
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II (optional)
B-flat Tenor Saxophone (optional)
E-flat Baritone Saxophone (optional)
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

Other than the fact that Sousa's "thunderer" was undoubtedly a Mason, this identity has never been revealed. The Thunderer march was dedicate to Columbia Commandery No. 2, Knights Templar, of Washington, D.C., and it was composed on the occasion of the Twenty-fourth Triennia; Conclave of the Grand Encampment. The conclave was held in October 1889, and was sponsored by Columbia Commandery No. 2. Sousa had been "knighted" in that organization three years earlier.

The Thunderer was Mrs. John Phillip Sousa’s favorite march. Their daughter Helen revealed this, who had surmised that The Thunderer might have been her father’s salute to the London Times, which was known as the “thunderer.” It was since then determined that Sousa probably had no association with the newspaper at that time, however. The “thunderer” might have been one of the ones in charge of making arrangements for the 1889 conclave — in particular Myron M. Parker, who worked tirelessly to make the event the spectacular success that it was.

In the second section of the march, Sousa included an adaptation of earlier trumpet and drum piece, Here’s to Your Health, Sir!

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

Three years after Sousa was inducted into the Knights Templar of Washington, D.C., he dedicated this march to that organization. The Thunderer was Mrs. Sousa's favorite march, and was chosen by Sousa as one of five to be featured by his Great Lakes Naval Training Station Band on their tour on behalf of the American Red Cross during World War I.

The second section includes an adaptation of Here's to Your Health, Sir!, which Sousa had written for his 1886 collection Trumpet and Drum.

At the time this march was written, Sousa was 35 years of age. He had led the Marine Band for nine years and was considered an outstanding conductor and composer. However, he was still naive in many business matters. Before he changed publishers in 1892 and began to make his own business arrangements, he sold many of his most popular marches, including The Thunderer, for $35 each.

- Program Note from Program Notes for Band

Commercial Discography


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

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. 73-74.
  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications, pp. 556.
  • Sousa, J. (1889). The Thunderer : March (With Trumpet And Drum Corps) [score]. Carl Fischer; New York.