Band Music of Alton Augustus Adams Now Available

Alton Augustus Adams (1889–1987) was a pioneering performer, composer, educator, and writer who advanced the band culture of the Virgin Islands. A flutist and piccolo player, he founded the Adams Juvenile Band in 1910, teaching each of its musicians and drilling the ensemble to such a professional standard that the unit was inducted as a group into the U.S. Navy as its first and only African-American ensemble in 1917. The band served as a social and cultural bridge between the all-white naval administration of the islands and its community, which was primarily of African descent. This was a significant development in military history as previously, racist practices in the U.S. Navy limited African American servicemen to roles as cooks or valets for officers.

Portrait of Alton Augustus Adams
Portrait of Alton Augustus Adams, Sr. (1922)
The Virgin Islands March is the territorial anthem of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Inspired in part by his admiration for John Philip Sousa and Edwin Franko Goldman, Adams composed marches for his ensemble. Three of these marches were published in his lifetime—The Virgin Islands March (1919), The Governor’s Own (1921), and Spirit of the U.S.N. [United States Navy] (1924). The Star Spangled Music Foundation is pleased to make the two earlier marches—which are in the Public Domain—available in reliable, scholarly editions. Scores are available for free download here and parts can be readily obtained for free by emailing the editor, Mark Clague, at

About starspangledmusic

StarSpangledMusic.Org is a project of the not-for-profit Star Spangled Music Foundation. It is administered by Professor Mark Clague (University of Michigan) and Dr. Susan Key, a musicologist of American music who resides in California.
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