Classical Music in Pictures Music in Pictures    

Lesson 25: The Invincible Eagle

by John Philip Sousa

Performer: United States Marine Band

    Classical Music in Pictures Music in Pictures    

Lesson 25: The Invincible Eagle

by John Philip Sousa

Performer: United States Marine Band


Study the musical selection for one week.

Over the week:

  • Each day, listen to the musical selection.
  • Read the synopsis.
  • Review the vocabulary terms.
  • Read about the composer and practice reciting his or her name and the composition title.
  • Complete the enrichment activities.
  • Study the review questions.


Regarding 'The Invincible Eagle,' John Philip Sousa stated, 'It is what I call one of my sunshine marches. Some of my heavy marches are intended to convey the impression of the stir and strife of warfare, but The Invincible Eagle shows the military spirit at its lightest and brightest – the parade spirit . . . with the bravery of uniform, the sheen of silken stands, and the gleam of polished steel.' [1]


March: Walk in a military manner with a regular measured tread.
Brass Instruments: Brass wind instruments (including trumpet, horn, trombone) forming a band or a section of an orchestra.
Invincible: Too powerful to be defeated or overcome.
Eagle: A large bird of prey with a massive hooked bill and long broad wings.
Parade: A public procession, especially one celebrating a special day or event and including marching bands and floats.


  1. John Philip Sousa was born in 1854 in Washington, D.C., United States. See his picture below.
  2. Zoom in and find Sousa's city of birth (labeled DC) on the map of United States below.
  3. He started playing the violin at the age of six and later studied an additional seven instruments including piano, flute, and trombone.
  4. He served as an apprentice, director, and composer for the United States Marine Band at various times during his career. He eventually formed his own band and toured the world.
  5. He also invented a brass instrument called the sousaphone.
  6. Sousa is well known for the patriotic marches he composed. A 'march' is music for marching and features a strong beat. Marches are often played by military bands.
  7. As you listen to Sousa's compositions, march to the music and form your own parade.
  8. Sousa died of heart failure in 1932 at the age of 77.


Activity 1: Describe the Music

Listen to the music, and close your eyes and let yourself imagine. What do you picture as you listen to the music?

  • After listening to the music, describe and discuss what you heard.
  • Is the tempo of the music fast or slow, steady or changing?

Read the list of adjectives. Select those that describe the music or think up additional adjectives.

  • Cheerful
  • Mournful
  • Soft
  • Noisy
  • Vivacious
  • Soothing
  • Eerie
  • Threatening
  • Surreal
  • Whimsical
  • Rhythmic
  • Grand

Activity 2: Study the Painting, Constantino Brumidi's 'Union'

As you listen to the music, find the following in the painting:

  • Stars
  • Stripes
  • Banner
  • Eagle
  • Arrows
  • Phrygian cap
  • Beak
  • Cape
  • Olive Branches
  • Union Shield

After you study the painting, narrate the scene shown in the painting aloud using your own words.

Describe how the painting relates to the music.

Activity 3: Read About the Painting, Constantino Brumidi's 'Union'

In Constantino Brumidi's 'Union,' he depicts symbols of America. A young woman wearing red, white, and blue looks to the heavens and waves the Union shield. She wears a Phrygian cap, which symbolizes liberty. Thirteen white stars form a constellation overhead. In the background, an eagle clutches arrows in his claws (signifying readiness for war) but is surrounded by olive branches (signifying desire to remain at peace). Union is mounted in the White House entrance hall.

Activity 4: March to the Music

Listen to the music, and march in time to the beat.


Question 1

What is the title of the music?
1 / 3

Answer 1

The title is 'The Invincible Eagle.'
1 / 3

Question 2

Who composed the music?
2 / 3

Answer 2

The composer is John Philip Sousa.
2 / 3

Question 3

What kind of animal is an Eagle?
3 / 3

Answer 3

An Eagle is a bird.
3 / 3

  1. What is the title of the music? The title is 'The Invincible Eagle.'
  2. Who composed the music? The composer is John Philip Sousa.
  3. What kind of animal is an Eagle? An Eagle is a bird.


  1. 'John Philip Sousa.' Wikipedia. n.p.
  2. [1] 'Annual Kaleidoscope of Bands Program.' University of Maryland School of Music.