Military Bands: An Entertaining Tradition

When you think about it, isn’t it a little strange that the U.S. military – the preeminent military force in the world – is also so well known for great entertainment?

Strange or not, we’re grateful for the tradition. Every branch of our military nurtures musical talent through multiple ensembles, and they perform a variety of musical genres, here in the States and internationally. Here are a few tidbits about our military bands that you may not know about.

The Marine Band is considered the oldest continuously active professional musical organization in the country. Founded by Congress way back in 1798, its mission is to perform for the President and the Commandant of the Marine Corps (although lower-ranking folks and civilians are welcome to listen, too). Fun fact: the director’s baton (pictured at left) is called the John Philip Sousa Baton.

The Coast Guard Band represents not just the Coast Guard, but the Department of Homeland Security. They were the first American military band to perform in the former Soviet Union. Not formally established until 1965, this group was a  latecomer compared to the other U.S. military bands.

The Navy included musicians right from the start. When the first Navy ship was put to sea, the captain was ordered to assemble a crew that included 21 privates, 1 sergeant, 1 corporal and 2 musicians (a fifer and a drummer). The role of musicians clearly expanded over time, and today’s Navy has 11 bands that present 6,000 performances a year.

Known as “Pershing’s Own,” the U.S. Army Band was created by order of General John J. Pershing (looking swanky in this photo) in 1922. It attained further prominence during the golden age of radio, averaging at least four broadcast performances a week during the 1930s until WWII. In fact, radio listeners ranked The Army Band the top band on the airwaves back then.

We’re delighted that the U.S. Army Band Brass Quintet will be performing for us on Sept. 17! Please join us for this FREE concert!