Slavic, East European & Eurasian Collections - IAS Library

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Sousa and Tsar Nicholas II’s Birthday: An Unexpected Tour Adventure Exhibit

Event Type
REEEC; Department of Theatre; Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures; School of Music; School of Art + Design; Center for Advanced Study; Center for African Studies; Center for Global Studies; Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies; Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies; College of Fine and Applied Arts; College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Program in Comparative and World Literature; Department of French and Italian; Department of History; European Union Center; Illinois International Programs; Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities; International and Area Studies Library; Krannert Art Museum; Lemann Institute for Brazilian Studies; MillerComm; Program in Jewish Culture and Society; School of Literatures, Cultures, and Linguistics; Sesquicentennial Committee; Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory; University Library; Women's Resource Center
Sousa Archives and Center for World Music, Harding Band Building (1103 S. 6th St., Champaign, IL 61820)
Aug 21, 2017 - Aug 6, 2018   8:30 am  
Free and open to the public.
Originating Calendar
Russian, E. European & Eurasian Center: Co-sponsored Events

The Russian imperial capital of St. Petersburg was a major stop during John Philip Sousa’s 1903 tour of Europe. Sousa planned his St. Petersburg performances to coincide with the tsar’s birthday and the bicentennial of the city’s founding, and anticipated large audiences for these concerts because the band had never before played in Russia. What resulted, however, was a misadventure. The concerts occurred at the beginning of Russia’s annual summer vacation when most theaters and concerts halls were closed. In addition Russian music critics’ responses to his music was tepid. Sousa was intimidated by the extensive advertising throughout the city for what he initially believed to be his music rival Суза, but eventually discovered that this was the Russian spelling of his own name. While the St. Petersburg performances were not well attended, the concerts did spark deep patriotism among the American diplomats who were able to attend and the Russian aristocracy and military enthusiastically received the Sousa Band’s renditions of the Imperial Russian and American national anthems. This exhibit of photographs, music, newspaper reviews, and political cartoons document Russian perceptions of America and Sousa’s music at the beginning of the twentieth century.

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