Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Friday, August 30

Sousa gets stiffed in Minneapolis

Synopsis

It was on this day in 1929 that a new march by John Philip Sousa was played for the first time —ONCE— and then promptly forgotten until almost 60 years later. The “Foshay Tower Washington Memorial March” was commissioned by Wilbur Foshay, a high-flying Minneapolis businessman of the Roaring 20s who fell victim to the stock market crash and criminal charges of mail fraud.

One of his extravagant projects was the Foshay Tower he built in downtown Minneapolis, a building shaped like the Washington Monument. The building still stands, with Foshay’s name carved in huge letters on all sides of the obelisk, now renovated as a historic site. In the lobby hangs Wilbur Foshay’s portrait, along with the score of Sousa’s march, which the March King himself conducted in Minneapolis on today’s date in 1929.

Soon after Wilbur Foshay’s empire of public utilities, factories and banks crumbled to dust, and he was convicted of fraud, spending two years and eleven months in Leavenworth prison. Not surprisingly, John Philip Sousa never got paid for his commission. He considered giving it a new name: “The Washington Memorial March,” but then decided to withdraw the piece completely, and the music was not published or performed again until 1988.

Music Played in Today's Program

John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) Foshay Tower (Washington Memorial) March Great American Main Street Band; Timothy Foley, cond. EMI/Angel 54130

Additional Information

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