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Karl King’s Top Twelve

One of the most prolific composers for concert band, Karl King composed at least 291 works, including 185 marches, 22 overtures, 12 galops, 29 waltzes, and works in many other styles. Not only did he compose some of the most brilliant and famous marches for experienced bands at the professional and university levels; he also displayed a remarkable ability to compose first-rate music for younger, less experienced musicians and bands. His music continues to be performed worldwide by bands of all experience levels.

Recognizing the importance of understanding Mr. King’s work, the American School Band Directors Association initiated a research project to capture the interpretive aspects of Karl King’s music. Before his death in 1971, twelve of his most representative compositions were selected and material compiled from five primary sources: conversations with Mr. King himself; and comments from Mr. RegShive, Dr. W.B. Green, Mr. Arnold Bode and Mr. Frank Piersol. All played under Mr. King’s direction for many years, with Dr. Green and Mr. Shive as successors to Mr. King as the director of Fort Dodge (IA) Municipal Band.

  • The Top Twelve Karl King Marches
  • Emblem of Freedom March
  • Fountain of Youth Overture
  • Hosts of Freedom March
  • The Goldman Band March
  • The Trombone King March
  • The Big Cage Circus Galop
  • Cyrus the Great March
  • A Night in June Serenade
  • The Purple Pageant March
  • Woody Van’s March
  • Garland Entrée March
  • Barnum and Bailey’s Favorite March

The detailed interpretive aspects of each march is detailed in a booklet titled “Sounds of Karl L. King” and director are encourage to obtain this booklet and accompanying CD for review as part of their preparations for teaching and conducting these pieces. Purchases also support the ASBDA Foundation project funding. The book and CD are available at

The American School Band Directors Association Education Foundation was established to promote instrumental music through educational programs directed toward instrumental music students and teachers as well as the public through scholarships, commissioning projects, research projects, publication and recording projects and other such projects. For more information, please visit the foundation’s pages at