First established on July 11, 1798 by President John Adams, the United States Marine Band is the oldest continuously active professional musical organization in America. It was during the inauguration of Thomas Jefferson when the band received the “President’s Own” title. Since then, the President’s Own has upheld the prime tradition of performing for every presidential inauguration.

The United States Marine Band, 1891, GettyImages

The President’s Own was raised to a level of distinction due to the leadership of John Philip Sousa, the 17th director of the band. Sousa wrote the national march, “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” as well as the march for the Marine Corps, “Semper Fidelis.” His conductorship led the band to become a top-tier military ensemble and go on a national tour for the first time.

Photograph of John Phillip Sousa, 1900, Library of Congress

"Your marches are like the American people — full of fire, brilliance, and sentiment."

- Queen Alexandra of England to Sousa, 1901

"Semper Fidelis," December 8, 2011, YouTube

"The Stars and Stripes Forever," December 8, 2011, YouTube

Marine Band Director Lt. Col. Jack Kline handing the baton to West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt during a state dinner, 1977, Jimmy Carter Presidential Library

Though the band has mainly played for the nation, they have also been known to perform for foreign dignitaries during state dinners. 

The Marine Band performing in the Entrance Hall of the White House for a state dinner, 1988, National Archives