Founded in 1798 by an act of Congress, signed by President John Adams, “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band performs for the president of the United States and the commandant of the Marine Corps. It is America’s oldest continuously active professional musical organization.
No other musical organization can claim the heritage or historic precedence of the United States Marine Band. Since the Marine Band made its White House debut in 1801, it has functioned as "The President’s Own" band. As such, the Marine Band serves the office of the presidency in a non-partisan manner.
In 1880, the Marine Band’s most well-known leader, John Philip Sousa, took command. Sousa himself stated, "The Marine Band is virtually the National Band and the band that should be as great among bands as America is among nations." Under Sousa, the Marine Band’s fame increased, and the leader of the Marine Band began fulfilling an even more active role as White House music adviser.
Since the time of Sousa, the band's 17th music director, and probably before, the director of the Marine Band has performed at the White House in support of state and other official functions.
Though the Marine Band is steeped in tradition, it remains a forward-thinking and musically innovative ensemble. Audiences now enjoy the elite musicianship of “The President’s Own” as it performs quintessential patriotic and martial favorites alongside selections from the wind band repertoire, works by contemporary composers, scores from film and theater and more.
In present day, approximately 65 band musicians tour during the month of October, performing in one of the country's five designated tour regions: West Coast, Southwest, Southeast, Northeast and Midwest. Concerts last two hours and occur on Monday-Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons. These events are free and open to the public, sponsored by local community organizations such as schools, veteran groups and performance venues.
The Marine Band also uses its tour to make an educational impact. Each year, thousands of music students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds have the opportunity to interact with Marine Band musicians through free clinics, classroom performances and talks. These clinics often reach music programs that could not otherwise host professionally trained musicians.
The Marine Band continues to tour annually, just as it first did in 1891, bringing a White House experience to grand concert halls in major cities and school gymnasiums in towns alike. For many, seeing “The President’s Own” play is a beloved memory shared across generations, and it remains an important facet of the American musical experience.
Please note: Biographies are based on information provided to the CSO by the artists or their representatives. More current information may be available on websites of the artists or their management.