Victor 16777 – Sousa’s Band – 1912/1920

An early edition sheet music to "The Stars and Stripes Forever", dating to 1897.

An early edition sheet music to “The Stars and Stripes Forever”, dating to 1897.

On the Fourth of July, we celebrate the United States’ Declaration of Independence from England.  This year’s Independence Day is a particularly important one, being the United States’ 240th.  As such, it would only be appropriate to celebrate with patriotic music by America’s March King, John Philip Sousa.

This year, Old Time Blues celebrates with John Philip Sousa’s own band playing a patriotic serenade.  However, Sousa himself, who was well known for his distaste for “canned music” does not direct his band on this record.  Instead, his protégé Arthur Pryor directs on the first side, and Victor’s musical director Josef Pasternack does so on the other.  We also previously posted Sousa’s final composition, the 1932 “Century of Progress March”, written for the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago.

Records like this are sometimes hard to date, as Victor had a tendency to record multiple takes over the course of several years (or decades), all on the same matrix and catalog numbers.  These appear to be takes 16 and 3, respectively.  That would indicate that the “A” side was recorded on December 13, 1912, and the “B” side was recorded on November 9, 1920, both in Camden, New Jersey.  The record was originally issued in November of 1910, and was cut from the catalog in October of 1926, when an Orthophonic version was released on Victor 20132, which remained in the catalog for an astounding thirty years.

First, Sousa’s Band plays his great 1897 composition, the “Stars and Stripes Forever March”.

Stars and Stripes Forever

Stars and Stripes Forever March, recorded December 13, 1912 by Sousa’s Band.

On the flip, it’s Sousa’s “Fairest of the Fair March”, composed in 1908 for the Boston Food Fair.

Fairest of the Fair

Fairest of the Fair, recorded November 9, 1920 by Sousa’s Band.

Columbia 2745-D – Art Kassel and his Kassels in the Air – 1933

A view of the Century of Progress Exposition, pictured on a contemporary travel brochure.

November 12 marks the eighty-second anniversary of the date that the 1933 Chicago “Century of Progress” World’s Fair was intended to close, though it proved so popular that it was continued through October 31, 1934.  It ran for more than seventeen months from its opening on May 27, 1933.  This beautiful Royal Blue Columbia record (pressed in blue shellac) was presumably sold as one of the enormous multitude of souvenirs available at the fair (which I also collect, in addition to all these phonograph records).

Columbia 2745-D was recorded on January 10, 1933 in Chicago, Illinois, about four months before the World’s Fair opened to the public.  Art Kassel was a popular Chicago-based bandleader recording somewhat extensively, beginning in the 1920s and continuing until at least the 1940s.

The official song of the Century of Progress Exposition is fully titled “(Where Will You Be) In 1933”, though the label only lists the latter part of that.  This side is somewhat typical of the “cheer up” songs so prevalent in the first few years of the Great Depression, complete with Ted Lewis imitator.

In 1933,

In 1933, recorded January 10, 1933 by Art Kassel and his Kassels in the Air.

John Philip Sousa’s “A Century of Progress March” bears the additional historical distinction of being the great march composer’s last composition before his death in 1932.

A Century of Progress March,

A Century of Progress March, recorded January 10, 1933 by Art Kassel and his Kassels in the Air.

Updated on May 27, 2017, and with improved audio on June 6, 2018.