John Philip Sousa was born in Washington, D.C. He was the third of ten children of João António de Sousa, who was of Portuguese and Spanish ancestry and his German wife Maria Elisabeth Trinkhaus. His father was a trombonist by profession who played with the Marine Band.
When he was 13, Sousa was offered a job as a musician in a circus. His father, disapproving of the plan, arranged for him instead to be apprenticed to the Marine Band, the official band of the president of the United States.
Appointed leader of the Marine Band in 1880, Sousa's Band, as it was called, achieved great popularity during its many tours of the United States and Europe.
A perfectionist, Sousa took pride in conducting his band in full military uniform.
Among the works Sousa composed during his 12 years as director of the United States Marine Band were "Semper Fidelis" (1888), "The Washington Post" (1889) and "South Africa March" (1889). Altogether he composed about 140 military marches, earning him the title "March King."
When Sousa left the Marine Band in 1892 to form his own orchestra, the news merited a front-page story in the New York Times.
Between 1879 and 1915 Sousa composed 11 comic operas, of which 'El Capitan' and 'The Bride-Elect' are the best known. Sousa also wrote two symphonic poems and invented the sousaphone, a large bass tuba with circular coiling and an upright bell.
In addition to his music Sousa wrote three novels and an autobiography, Marching Along
, published in 1928. (Source of all above The Encyclopedia of Trivia