Opening Night

October 18, 1924

Never before was such a throng gathered under one roof in Memphis. Never before was there such an occasion.
— Report on opening night of The Auditorium.

The entertainment for the building’s premiere — march king John Philip Sousa — did not disappoint, according to the review.

Beyond the Moment

John Philip Sousa was the third of 10 children and grew up surrounded by military band music. At the young age of six, he began studying voice and a multitude of instruments including the piano, flute, cornet, trombone and alto horn. When Sousa was 13, his father, who was a trombonist in the Marine Band, enlisted him as an apprentice in the United States Marine Corps to keep him from joining a circus band. After departing the band in 1875, Sousa learned to conduct. He eventually rejoined the Marine Band and served 12 years as director. When he left the Marine Band, Sousa organized his own band and toured Europe and Australia. At the beginning of World War I, Sousa was commissioned as a lieutenant and led the Naval Reserve Band in Illinois. At the end of his service, he returned to conduct the Sousa Band and focused exclusively on conducting and composing music until his death in 1932.

Sousa became widely known as "The March King" for his unquestionable ability to write grand fanfares. A few of his most popular works include "The Stars and Stripes Forever," "Semper Fidelis," "The Liberty Bell," and "The Washington Post." He's even the father of the popular marching band tuba which bears his name, the sousaphone.

The Stars and Stripes Forever
The Liberty Bell
Christian Brothers University
Christian Brothers University