Transit of Venus (1883)

From Wind Repertory Project
John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa

General Info

Year: 1883
Duration: c. 1:55
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Pepper
Cost: Score and Parts – Out of print.

For availability information, see Discussion tab, above.


Full Score
C Piccolo/Flute
Oboe (optional)
Bassoon (optional)
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III (II-III optional)
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone (optional)
B-flat Tenor Saxophone (optional)
E-flat Baritone Saxophone (optional)
E-flat Cornet
B-flat Cornet Solo-I-II
Horn in F Solo-I-II
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Snare Drum
  • Triangle


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Originally written in 1883, this work celebrates the actual astronomical event for which it is named. The transit of Venus [generally] happens every 243 years when Venus passes between the sun and the earth. The work was erroneously thought to be lost for over 100 years, until a piano transcription published in 1896 was found in the Library of Congress.

- Program Note by Wingert-Jones

It is not known whether or not Sousa witnessed either of the two transits of Venus that occurred in his lifetime, but the phenomenon was the basis for the title of this march and one of his three novels.

The march received its première at a concert of the U.S. Marine Band on April 19, 1883, with Sousa conducting. The occasion was the unveiling of a statue of Joseph Henry, first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, who had died in 1878. Henry, as president of the National Academy of Sciences, had been responsible for proper observation of the transit of Venus in 1874.

There is nothing in Sousa’s or Henry’s memoirs suggesting that the two were personally acquainted, but it is possible because they both lived in Washington at the same time. Inasmuch as several members of the National Academy of Sciences were present at the unveiling of Henry’s statue, it is likely that the march was intended as a salute to both Henry and the Academy.

- Program Note from The Works of John Philip Sousa.

Commercial Discography


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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  • Bierley, P. (1984). The Works of John Philip Sousa. Integrity Press; Westerville, Ohio, pp. 90.