GESCHIEDENIS, koperen blaasinstrumenten

HISTORY, brass windinstruments


THE ORIGINAL SOUSAPHONE For many years there were claims and counter claims about who invented the Sousaphone. The conventional wisdom has held that the instrument was invented by the C.G. Conn company. Indeed, Conn instruments were in use by the Sousa band by 1898. In the course of researching the history of the Pepper company we have found reason to believe that the first bell upright, bass brass instrument was built by the J.W. Pepper Co. in 1893 and displayed at the industrial exhibt in Philadelphia of that same year. The instrument pictured is that horn. In an interview with John Philip Sousa the Christian Science Monitor of May 30, 1922 quoted him as follows:

Conn BBb Sousaphone

Serial #167214

3 valves,

silverplate, "Raincatcher"

"...the Sousaphone received its name through a suggestion made by me to J.W. Pepper, the instrument manufacturer of Philadelphia, full 30 odd years ago. At that time, the United States Marine Band of Washington, D.C., of which I was conductor, used a BBb bass tuba of circular form known as a "Helicon". It was all right enough for street-parade work, but its tone was apt to shoot ahead too prominently and explosively to suite me for concert performances, so I spoke to Mr. Pepper relative to constructing a bass instrument in which the bell would turn upwards and be adjustable for concert purposes. He built one and, greatful to me for the suggestion, called it a Sousaphone. It was immediately taken up by other instrument makers, and is today manufactured in its greatest degree of perfection by the C.G. Conn Company..."

Conn BBb Sousaphone

Serial #62238

4 valves,

silverplate, "Raincatcher"

The original instrument is in our posession and is in remarkably good condition. It was partially restored by the repair department at Zezwitz Music of Reading, PA. On their advice it was not attempted to overhaul the instrument to "like new condition" but only to a point to preserve it. It has much elabrate engraving over much of the body and has a freehand engraving of a portrait of Mr.Sousa on the bell. It plays remarkably well. Pictured with the original Pepper Sousaphone is James "Jimmy" Saied, well known conductor and Sousa impersonator.

John Phillip Sousa


Conn instruments were in use by the J.P.Sousa band by 1898



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