The Liberty Bell march by the American bandmaster Sousa is considered one of his finest works: happily it also made him a great deal of money! Such is its status in America that it was used at the inaugurations of Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. But to many around the world it is instantly recognisable as the opening title theme to Monty Python’s Flying Circus. No doubt the Pythons were attracted by the Liberty Bell’s incredibly catchy melodies – and the fact that with no budget left over to spend on theme music they had to find something that was royalty-free!! In fact, so strong is the Monty Python association that the Buckingham Palace Guard ceased to use it once the series began to air, opting for different marching music instead!
As is typical in many band marches the bass line plays a prominent part – so the music lends itself particularly well to being arranged for bassoon quartet. This arrangement was used in the Monty Python segment of Miranda Hart’s The Story of Slapstick as shown on BBC1.