“Two Variations on a Theme by Sousa” is a playful expansion of the first few seconds of one of John Phillip Sousa’s famous marches, “The Fairest of the Fair.” The piece was conceived during a car ride; I was overcome with inspiration by a particular melody, sounding in my head on a flute. Later, after transcribing this melody, I realized that it was simply a transformation on a tune that Sousa had already used over a century ago. Even though my original idea had lost its illusion of novelty, I felt inspired to continue pursuing it, and that’s when I knew a variations piece would be perfect. Rather than exactly parroting the style and form of a march, I decided to focus mainly on the capturing and transforming character of its melody. I rearranged, repurposed, and recontextualized fragments of the opening motive to showcase the robust durability of Sousa’s melodies. In this way, Sousa’s work parallels his life’s work; just as his music survives transformation, his legacy survives time.
Two Variations on a Theme by Sousa