For more than two centuries, the United States Marine Band has been part of events that have shaped the nation. Established by an Act of Congress in 1798, the Marine Band is America’s oldest professional musical organization. The Marine Band made its White House debut on New Year’s Day, 1801, in a performance for President John Adams. In March of that year, the band performed for the inaugural of Thomas Jefferson, and has performed for every Presidential inaugural since. An accomplished musician himself, Jefferson recognized the unique relationship between the band and the Chief Executive by giving the Marine Band the title “The President’s Own.” Its primary mission is unique—to provide music for the President of the United States and the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps.
Now in its third century, the Marine Band continues a tradition of excellence. Marine Band musicians appear at the White House more than 300 times each year, for events including South Lawn arrival ceremonies, State Dinners, and receptions. These performances range from a solo harpist or chamber orchestra to a dance band or full concert band, making versatility essential for the members. Additionally, the band participates in more than 500 public and official performances annually. Each fall, the Marine Band travels through a region of the United States during its national concert tour, a century-old tradition initiated by John Philip Sousa, the Marine Band’s legendary 17th Director.
Most members are graduates of the nation’s finest music schools, and nearly 60 percent hold advanced degrees in music.