In commenting about this march, Sousa is reported to have said "(it's) addressed to no particular nation, but to all of America's friends abroad." His words couldn't have been more prophetic as it has become the musical symbol of international friendship and goodwill. As director of the Marine Band, Col. John R. Bourgeois has performed this march on numerous historic occasions such as the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Statue of Liberty and the International Parade of the Tall Ships (1986), the Marine Band's first overseas appearances in Ireland (1986) and Norway (1989), and their historic tour of the former Soviet Union (1990). It is only appropriate that Col. Bourgeois' edition of Sousa's Hands Across the Sea has been designated the official march of the inaugural Cuba/United States Wind Band Symposium.
Composer Semeon Alexanderovich Chernetsky was born in 1881 and died in 1950. A trombonist and a composition student of Alexander Glazunov, he was also a prominent military bandmaster. He was named Director of the Band of the Soviet Army in 1932, and in 1935 he founded the Band of the Ministry of Defense. He composed over 70 marches including March of the Tankmen, which he wrote in 1946, as well as other works for band. The stately manner of this stirring march displays a profound sense of loyalty and national pride that is unmistakable.
The Thunderer was written by "The March King," John Philip Sousa, in 1889; it was said that it was Mrs. Sousa's favorite march. This well-known march is adapted here for young bands and still retains all the charm and appeal of the original. With the woodwind parts lowered and the rhythms and snare drum part simplified, it's very playable by most middle school bands. It's a great way for young musicians to experience the music of this famous composer while learning to play in classic march style with separation and dynamic contrast.