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Tuesday, 13 March 2018

John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa was born in Washington, D.C. on November 6, 1854.

Sousa in 1900

John Philip 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.

John Philip showed an early interest in music and started his music education by playing the violin as a pupil of John Esputa and George Felix Benkert for harmony and musical composition at the age of six. He was found to have absolute pitch.

Growing up in Civil War era Washington, John Philip heard, and was influenced by, the sounds of drummers and military bands.

His career as a performer began at age 11, when he played the violin in a dance band.

When he was 13 Sousa was offered a job as a musician in a circus, and his father, disapproving of the plan, arranged for him to be apprenticed to the Marine Band, the official band of the president of the United States, instead. For five years he played with the Marine Band before taking up the violin again as a conductor of theater orchestras.

By the early 1870s Sousa writing his own music and conducting small orchestras in Washington

In 1876 he played in the orchestra of the French composer Jacques Offenbach at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. Sousa stayed on in Philadelphia throughout the late 1870s.

Sousa married Jane van Middlesworth Bellis (1862–1944). on December 30, 1879. They had three children: John Philip, Jr. (April 1, 1881 – May 18, 1937), Jane Priscilla (August 7, 1882 – October 28, 1958), and Helen (January 21, 1887 – October 14, 1975)

Appointed leader of the Marine Band in 1880, Sousa's Band, as it was called, achieved great popularity during many tours of the United States and Europe. Sousa directed the Marine Band until 1892.

A perfectionist, Sousa raised the level of performance and richness of instrumentation of the concert band. He took pride in conducting his band in full military uniform.

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.

Sousa and his newly formed civilian band, 1893

John Philip Sousa's stirring marches will survive as long as band music is played. He raised band music to a distinguished level, making it a very American musical form. During his 12 years as director of the United States Marine Band, Sousa composed Semper Fidelis (1888), The Thunderer (1889) The Washington Post (1889), South Africa March (1889), and Liberty Bell (1893). Altogether he composed about 140 military marches, earning him the title "March King."

In 1889, the Washington Post March, named after the newspaper, the Washington Post gave birth to the two-step in a metre, with a quick marching step with skips. It has remained as one of his most popular marches throughout the United States and is played regularly by marching bands at college football games.

Sousa's most famous work is The Stars and Stripes Forever. In 1897 a statue of George Washington was unveiled in Philadelphia. To commemorate the occasion, John Philip Sousa’s march, The Stars and Stripes Forever, was performed. It was the first public performance for Sousa’s march and the President of the U.S., William McKinley, was in the audience.

The Stars and Stripes Forever was designated the official march of the United States in 1987.

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.

Sheet music

When the Spanish-American War began in 1898 Sousa was appointed music director for the Sixth Army Corps.

During World War I Sousa enlisted in the United States Navy and took charge of the band training center at the Great Lakes naval base in Illinois. After the war he continued his band tours.

In addition to his music Sousa wrote three novels and an autobiography, Marching Along, published in 1928.

Sousa died in Reading, Pennsylvania of heart failure, on March 6, 1932. His death was national news, and he was given a hero's funeral.

Sources, Compton's Encyclopedia

Monday, 12 March 2018

Soup (Campbell's)

When organic chemist John Dorrance returned from Europe to the United States to work for his uncle at the Joseph A. Campbell Preserve Company, in Camden, New Jersey in the late 1890s, he outfitted a laboratory on the company premises out of his own pocket.

The Josseph A. Campbell Preserve Co., Camden, NJ in 1894

While studying in Europe, Dorrance had become used to having soup with his meals. He wanted to perfect a method of canning soup and adding it to Joseph A. Campbell Preserve Company's product line. In 1897 he invented condensed soup, which reproduced the soups he enjoyed in Europe, but in condensed form. This gave the company an advantage over competitors because by doing away with the water in canned soup shipping costs were much reduced, which enabled it to make it possible to offer a 10-ounce can of Campbell's condensed soup for just a dime. Also this made it possible for the Joseph Campbell Preserve Company to become one of the first food companies to have national distribution.

At the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900, Campbell's soups won a gold medal. The medal is still shown on the soup cans today.

The American pop-art pioneer Andy Warhol's 'Campbell's Soup Cans' exhibition opened at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles on July 9, 1962. The main exhibit consisted of 32 paintings of cans of every variety of Campbell's Soup.

Andy Warhol- Campbell's Soup Cans (1962) Wikipedia

The red and white label on a Campbell's Soup can comes from the colors of the Cornell University football team.

McDonald's used to sell Campbell's soup during the winter time at select locations.

The FTC once issued a cease and desist order to Campbell's Soup company for using marbles in their soup ads. The marbles were placed in the bottom of the soup to push the solid ingredients to the top, which was considered deceptive.

Source Food for Thought by Ed Pearce


Soup is the nutritious liquid obtained by boiling meat or vegetables in stock. It is generally served warm or hot.



Soup was consumed in the Mediterranean area by prehistoric man with the main ingredient being Hippopotamus bones.

At first soups were cooked by dropping hot stones into the liquid. Eventually man developed pots which could withstand the direct heat of a fire.

Remains of ceramic pots recently found by archaeologists suggest that the Japanese were eating fish soup 15,000 years ago.

Black soup was a standard meal for Spartan warriors made from boiled pigs' legs, blood, salt and vinegar. After tasting it one commentator remarked "Now I know why the Spartans do not fear death."

In the French court of Louis XI (1423-1483), the fine ladies lived mainly on soup because they believed that excessive chewing would cause them to develop premature facial wrinkles.

The word 'soup' does not occur in any of William Shakespeare's plays or sonnets.

Soup (William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1865)

Started by George Baxter as a village store in Fochabers, Moray, Scotland, the firm Baxters, now known for its tinned soups, was established in 1868. One rare failure for the company was its canned porridge, which was discontinued after just a few months on the shelves in the 1960s.

Thomas Edison would give potential employees a bowl of soup during the interview, if they salted or peppered the soup before tasting it they wouldn't get the job. This was to test whether the employees had analytical minds and didn't make assumptions.


The bouillon cube was once a common snack food in early America. Beef or veal stock was boiled down until it reached a hard jelly texture. The hard cakes didn't spoil, and trappers and hunters nibbled on them when tramping along on long journeys during the 1700s.

Industrially produced bouillon cubes, compressed, concentrated cubes of dehydrated meat or vegetable stock, were introduced commercially by the Swiss flour manufacturer Julius Maggi in 1908. He produced them so the poor living in city slums (who cannot afford meat) would have a cheap method for making nutritious soup.

Bouillon cubes By Rainer Z

King Louis XV of France (1710 –1774) was so afraid of being poisoned that he had several servants taste his food before he ate it. By the time the soup reached him, it was cold. He liked it so much that he had it served cold from then on. That (supposedly) is why the creamy French potato soup, vichysoisse, is always served chilled.

It is claimed that King Louis XV of returned late one night to his hunting lodge, and all that was on hand was onions, butter and champagne. He mixed them together, cooked it and thus invented the first French onion soup.

In France Oxtail soup was created as a result of slaughterhouses sending the Ox's hides to the tanneries without cleaning them, leaving on the tails. A French noble asked for a tail, which was willingly given to him, and he created the first oxtail soup. The new soup was so popular that the tanners started charging for the tails because of the demand for them.

Southern Oxtail Soup. By Roboscreech at the English language Wikipedia

In 19th-century Britain, ‘mock-turtle’ soup was often made from cow foetuses.

The Kai Mayfair, London restaurant set a record for offering the world’s most expensive commercially available bowl of soup in 2005 at $190 (£108 at the time). The soup, known as Buddha Jumps Over The Wall, contained shark fin, sea snails, Japanese flower mushroom, pork and ginseng.

Italian "wedding soup" comes from the Italian language phrase "minestra maritata ("married soup")," which is a reference to the flavor produced by the combination or "marriage" of greens and the broth.


In 2007, a French court ruled that it is not discriminatory to offer pork soup to the homeless, after a soup kitchen serving it was banned as discriminating against Jews and Muslims.

Women are two or three times more likely than men to order soup in a restaurant.

In China and Japan, it is considered polite to slurp your soup. It means your meal is too good to be graceful.

By law, all bars in Indiana are required to sell soup.

Sources Daily Express, Daily Mail, Food For Thought by Ed Pearce

Sunday, 11 March 2018


Camille Saint-Saëns wrote the first ever film soundtrack. In 1908, the French composer provided the score for the 18-minute-long motion picture, The Assassination of the Duke of Guise, which was made by a team who also encouraged well-known stage actors to perform in their films to give them some kudos. Saint-Saëns later developed his music into a concert work - The Opus 128 for strings, piano and harmonium.

The 1926 film Don Juan was the first feature-length movie to utilize the Vitaphone sound-on-disc sound system with a synchronized musical score, though it has no spoken dialogue.

The 1927 movie The Jazz Singer was the first musical where the audience could hear an artist (in this case Al Jolson) perform.

Disney's 1937 animated motion picture Snow White was the first American movie to have a soundtrack album released with the feature film. It was released by RCA Victor Records on multiple 78 RPM discs in January 1938 as Songs from Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (with the Same Characters and Sound Effects as in the Film of That Title).

Film score albums did not really become popular until the LP era started in 1948, although a few were issued in 78-rpm albums.

Vincente Minnelli's 1949 movie Madame Bovary is credited as the first soundtrack to be released from a feature film, rather than a cartoon or musical.

When Bill Haley and his Comets released "Rock Around the Clock", it begun the first rock and roll craze among mainstream listeners, as well as the first use of pop music in a film soundtrack.

Henry Mancini was the first composer to have a widespread hit with a song from a soundtrack. His "Peter Gunn Theme" for the 1958-61 TV series of the same name won an Emmy Award and two Grammys and subsequently has been performed and recorded by many jazz, rock, and blues musicians.

The movie The Graduate was one of the first major films to use rock music in its soundtrack, using songs written by Paul Simon (notably, "Mrs Robinson," which became a hit). The soundtrack album was released on January 21, 1968.

The Miami Vice soundtrack was already at the summit when the show's theme tune topped the Hot 100 on November 9, 1985. US chart history was made, as it was the first time a TV show generated both the US #1 single and album.

The American John Williams (born February 8, 1932) has composed the scores to more than 100 films, including Jaws, the Star Wars movies and Schindler’s List. He is the world’s most successful film composer and, with 51 Academy Award nominations, second to Walt Disney as the most-nominated person. (He has won five.) By 2016, Williams had composed the score for eight of the top twenty highest-grossing films at the U.S. box office (adjusted for inflation)  He does all his work with pen and paper.

John Williams conducting the score to Raiders of the Lost Ark By TashTish at en.wikipedia,  
Source Classicfm

The Sound of Music


In 1924 Maria Augusta Kutschera entered Nonnberg Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in Salzburg, Austria as a postulant, intending to become a nun.

While still a schoolteacher at the abbey, Maria was hired to tutor one of the seven children of widowed naval commander Georg von Trapp. The child had scarlet fever and was too ill to walk to school. Eventually, Maria began to look after the other children as well.

Maria Von Trapp in 1948

At the age of 22 Maria Kutschera married 47-year-old Georg von Trapp on November 26, 1927. They wed in the church of Nonnberg Abbey with all seven children present.

Maria bore Georg two daughters and a son, bringing the total number of the von Trapp children to ten.

The Von Trapp family lost their fortune in the worldwide Great Depression, and the children's singing careers were purely a way to earn a livelihood.

Soprano Lotte Lehmann heard the family sing, and she suggested they perform at concerts. When the Austrian Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg heard them on the radio, he invited them to perform in Vienna.

The Von Trapps moved to America after the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in March 1938. The day after they left, Hitler ordered the Austrian borders shut. The Nazis made use of their abandoned home as Heinrich Himmler's headquarters.

Initially calling themselves the "Trapp Family Choir", the von Trapps began to perform in the United States and Canada.

Trapp Family Singers preparing for a concert in Boston in 1941.

The von Trapps settled in Stowe, Vermont, where they opened the Trapp Family Lodge, which is operational to this day.

Maria Augusta von Trapp's memoir The Story of the Trapp Family Singers was published in 1949 by J. B. Lippincott Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Maria sold the rights to her memoir to German producers who made two films. The Trapp Family and its sequel, The Trapp Family in America, were hugely popular in post-War West Germany.

Because she'd sold the rights to the German producers, Maria and the von Trapps didn't see any money from The Sound of Music's success.


The Sound of Music musical was based on Maria Von Trapp's 1956 memoir The Story of the Trapp Family Singers and the 1956 German movie The Trapp Family.

The lyrics were written by Oscar Hammerstein II and the music composed by Richard Rodgers.

The Sound of Music musical opened on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on November 16, 1959. Both of the major New York critics hated it, finding it way too saccharine, but producers already had $2 million in advance ticket sales their lack of enthusiasm didn't really matter.

The Sound of Music's original title was The Singing Heart.

Original poster of musical. Wikipedia

The Broadway musical was the final collaboration of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II; Hammerstein died of stomach cancer nine months after the opening.

"Edelweiss" was the last song Oscar Hammerstein ever wrote, at the last minute during the show's tryout in Boston.

Mary Martin played the original Maria. During her two years in the Broadway show, she only missed one show.

The real-life Baroness Maria von Trapp fell from a tree and broke her arm while coaching Mary Martin for the role.

Mary Martin and children in a publicity photo, 1959

Due to the design of the two-story set, Martin had to run three miles during every show to make her entrances and exits.

The play won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical and a third Best Actress for Martin (following South Pacific and Peter Pan).

The original cast recording of The Sound of Music was nearly as popular as the show itself. Recorded just a week after the show's Broadway premiere and released by Columbia Records, the album was number one on the Billboard charts for 16 weeks.


The Sound Of Music movie, starring Julie Andrews as Maria, had its premiere in New York on March 2, 1965.

Theatrical release poster by Howard Terpning

Director Robert Wise interviewed more than 200 children to cast the von Trapp siblings. Patti Duke, Mia Farrow, Sharon Tate and Geraldine Chaplin all auditioned for the role of Leisl, which eventually went to Charmian Carr. Kurt Russell and Richard Dreyfuss also auditioned to be von Trapp children.

Growing pains were a problem for the filmmakers during shooting: Nicholas Hammond (Friedrich) grew six inches in six months.

Two of the actors who played major characters did not actually sing in the movie. Christopher Plummer's singing voice was dubbed by Bill Lee, and Peggy Wood's was dubbed by Margery McKay.

While filming the iconic opening scene, twirling in the hills of Austria, Julie Andrews kept getting knocked down in the mud by the gusts from the helicopter carrying the camera.

Charmian Carr slipped and fell through a window in the gazebo while filming "Sixteen Going on Seventeen." Her bandaged ankle had to be airbrushed out in later versions of the film.

There were plenty of differences between Maria Augusta von Trapp's 1949 memoir and The Sound of Music film. For one thing, the von Trapps did escape Austria as the Nazis came to power, but they didn't flee over the Alps, they got on a train to Italy and then traveled to America, where they had a concert tour scheduled.

If you look closely at the film, you'll spot the real Maria von Trapp in a cameo, walking past a stone archway while Julie Andrews sings "I Have Confidence."

The Sound of Music won five Oscars in 1965, including Best Picture. It's one of only four films ever to win a Tony Award for Best Play or Musical, and later win Best Picture.

It had the longest first run in U.S. cinemas ever at four and a half years.

A cinema manager in Seoul, South Korea felt that The Sound of Music was too long, so he shortened it by cutting out all the songs.

hristopher Plummer and Julie Andrews on location in Salzburg, 1964

Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution of the mid-sixties banned The Sound Of Music. The Chinese leader stated it was an example of western pornography. He only allowed uplifting films and songs which upheld the class struggle.

The Sound of Music is the third-highest-grossing film of all time at the U.S. box office, adjusted for inflation, according to Box Office Mojo. It is behind Gone With the Wind, at #1 and Star Wars.

Sources BroadwayMonterey Herald


Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville made the oldest known recording of an audible human voice when he recorded himself singing "Au clair de la lune" on his phonautograph machine in 1860.

An early phonautograph (1859). 

If you yelled for 8 years, 7 months and 6 days, you would have produced enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee.

In a study, the sound of someone vomiting was ranked number one most cringe-worthy sound ever. Microphone feedback was ranked number two.

Foley is the creation of everyday sound effects that are added to films and other media in post-production to enhance audio quality. Wagging an empty pair of gloves into a microphone, for example, can emulate the sound of a bird's wings flapping.

Sound travels nearly five times faster underwater than it does in the air.

If you were to produce a sound louder than 1,100 dB, you would create a black hole which would swallow up the Earth.

A sound produced on Earth sounds very different if produced on Mars. The composition and pressure of the Martian atmosphere distort sounds to a lower pitch.


SOS is the international Morse code distress signal (three dots, three dashes, and three dots, all run together without letter spacing).

The SOS distress signal was first adopted by the German government radio regulations effective April 1, 1905. It became the worldwide standard under the second International Radiotelegraphic Convention, which became effective on July 1, 1908.

The SOS distress signal was used for first time on June 10, 1909, when the Cunard liner SS Slavonia was wrecked off the Azores.

The SOS letters are simply a convenient and distinctive combination and are not an acronym, although they have been popularly held to stand for such phrases as "Save Our Ship," "Save Our Souls" or "Send Out Succour".

So why was SOS chosen to signify a distress signal? This was explained in the 1918 Marconi Yearbook of Wireless Telegraphy and Telephony: “This signal [SOS] was adopted simply on account of its easy radiation and its unmistakable character. There is no special significance in the letters themselves…”

SOS is often written inaccurately as “S.O.S.” As“SOS” isn’t an acronym for anything, it is incorrect to put full stops between each letter.

In 1917 San Francisco aluminium pot salesman Ed Cox, invented a pre-soaped pad with which to clean pots. As a way of introducing himself to potential new customers, Cox made the soap incrusted steel-wool pads as a calling card. These pads quickly became more popular than his pots and pans, so he gave up selling pots and concentrated on manufacturing the cleaning product. They still did not have a name until his wife came up with a solution. She had called them S.O.S pads in her kitchen, meaning "Save Our Saucepans."

S.O.S. by ABBA is the only Top 20 hit in history in which the title of the song and the name of the artist are both palindromes - they spell the same thing forward and backward.