The Stars and Stripes Forever is a patriotic American march widely considered to be the magnum op. of John Philip Sousa. By a 1987 act of the U.S. Congress it is the official national march of the United States of America. It was written in 1896 and greeted with enthusiasm on its first performance. Various sets of lyrics have been written for the piece, including one by Sousa himself, though they haven't been as succesful as the instrumental version of the music. The march follows the standar American march form, beggining with a 4-bar intro, followedby a playful melody. The trio is the most famous part of the march, with a counter melody obbligato in the first repeat. In the official version, as played by the US Marine Band, the march is performed in the key of Ab major.