"The Liberty Bell" (1893) is an American military march composed by John Philip Sousa.
John Philip Sousa (November 6, 1854 – March 6, 1932) was an American composer and conductor of the late Romantic era, known primarily for American military and patriotic marches. Because of his mastery of march composition, he is known as "The March King" or the "American March King" due to his British counterpart Kenneth J. Alford also being known as "The March King". Among his best-known marches are "The Liberty Bell", "The Thunderer", "The Washington Post", "Semper Fidelis" (Official March of the United States Marine Corps), and "The Stars and Stripes Forever" (National March of the United States of America).
"The Liberty Bell" was written for Sousa's unfinished operetta "The Devil's Deputy," but financing for the show fell through. Shortly afterwards, Sousa and his band manager George Hinton attended the Columbian Exposition in
. As they
watched the spectacle " Chicago ",
in which a backdrop depicting the Liberty Bell was lowered, Hinton suggested
"The Liberty Bell" as the title of Sousa's recently completed march.
Coincidentally, Sousa received a letter from his wife, saying their son had
marched in a parade in honor of the Liberty Bell. Sousa agreed. He sold
"The Liberty Bell" to the John Church Company for publication, and it
was an immediate success. The march is played as part of an exhibit in the
Liberty Bell Center. America
The United States Marine Corps Band has played "The Liberty Bell" march at four of the last six presidential inaugurations: the 1993 inauguration of President Bill Clinton, the 2005 inauguration of President George W. Bush, and the 2009 and 2013 inaugurations of President Barack Obama.
"The Liberty Bell" is also the official march past of the Canadian Forces Public Affairs Branch.
The march is often associated with the British TV comedy program Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969–74), which used the piece as a signature tune.The British comedy troupe Monty Python's use of the melody is ironic; the bouncy melody of the march may be what the troupe found appealing. Terry Gilliam, the only American in the troupe, decided to use the theme. He has said the piece was chosen because the troupe thought it could not be associated with the program's content, and that the first bell strike and the subsequent melody gave the impression of getting "straight down to business". It was also chosen because it was in the public domain and free from royalties, as there was no budget for theme music copyrights.
The Monty Python mode of presenting the tune was with a single strike of the bell, lifted from the third section and increased in volume, followed by a strain of each of the first two sections, followed by the famous stomping foot and a noticeably flatulent "splat" sound reminiscent of a whoopee cushion (though the first episodes used a "hiss"). At the end of Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl, the entire march was played over the closing credits.
"The Liberty Bell" was used by the Foot Guards before it became associated with the television series, after which they chose another march. Nevertheless, the march remains popular with British military bands.Because he is a fan of Python, the radio broadcaster Steve Oliver uses the music as his opening music on his Sherwood Radio show.