Originally from Washington, DC, composer John Philip Sousa (1854–1932) had a love of music from an early age. In addition to attending classes at a public school, Sousa took music courses at a conservatory. At the age of 13, Sousa joined the Marine Corps Band as an apprentice and served for seven years before leaving the Corps to launch a private musical career. During this time, Sousa began to conduct bands, earning great acclaim and, in 1880, an invitation to lead the Marine Corps Band, known as “The President’s Own.” During his leadership, Sousa composed “Semper Fidelis,” which has become the official march of the Marine Corps. Following a 12-year tenure, Sousa resigned from the Marines to form his own concert band, which traveled around the world several times. In 1897, Sousa’s most famous composition “The Stars and Stripes Forever” was first played in Philadelphia. In 1987, Congress declared it the “National March of the United States.” It was the last piece Sousa conducted before his death in 1932.