Washington, D.C. native and legendary bandmaster John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) wrote a dozen operettas, six full-length operas, and over 100 marches, earning the title “March King”. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at an early age and went on to become the conductor of the President’s Own United States Marine Band at age 26. In 1892 he formed “Sousa and his Band”, which toured the United States and the world under his directorship for the next forty years to great acclaim. Not only was Sousa’s band hugely popular, but it also exposed audiences all over the world to the latest, cutting-edge music, bringing excerpts of Wagner’s Parsifal to New York a decade before the Metropolitan Opera staged it, and introducing ragtime to Europe, helping to spark many a composer’s interest in American music.
With Pleasure is a ragtime dating from 1912, dedicated to the members of the Huntingdon Valley Country Club in Abington, Pennsylvania. The Sousa Band played it frequently, apparently to the delight of audiences. While this may seem atypical of Sousa’s well-known march style, he wrote many other light works in this vein. With Pleasure is notable for its extremely active, nearly virtuosic melodies and its colorful use of percussion, including sandpaper, wood block, castanets, and tambourine in addition to the usual marching battery. Note: the recent Schissel edition rates this as a grade 3, but I consider it a grade 5 – big difference!
Here is a recent United States Marine Band recording:
Read more about the Sousa Band and its history at naxosdirect.com. Click the link that says “Read more about this recording.”
The original 1912 John Church publication of With Pleasure is viewable online at the Library of Congress. Two other more recent editions can be found on J. W. Pepper, edited by Loras John Schissel and Robert E. Foster, respectively.