The United States Marine Band was founded in accordance with a July 11, 1798, act of Congress. It is thus not only the oldest American military band, but the oldest professional American musical organization. Although the USMB made its debut on August 21, 1800, its first major concert was given at the White House at the invitation of President John Adams on January 1, 1801. The ensemble also played for the inauguration of Thomas Jefferson that year (March 4) and has played for every presidential inauguration since.
There have been 27 directors of the USMB up through 2007, the first being William Farr and the most famous, the 14th, composer Sousa, who led the group from 1880-1892. He is generally credited with building the ensemble into the finest American band of its time. Other famous directors include: John R. Bourgeois (1979-1996), Timothy W. Foley (1996-2004), and Michael J. Colburn (2004-).
On May 17, 1922, the USMB appeared on its first radio broadcast and thereafter gave frequent performances over the airwaves. Over the years the ensemble grew in prominence and expanded in size, making numerous recordings and appearing at countless televised events. Its recordings are made available on the USMB's own label and from Naxos, Albany Records, Musical Heritage Society, and others. ~ Robert Cummings, Rovi