Czech-born composer Julius Fucik was known for his love of military marches. So much so, he was the “Bohemian Sousa.”
The classically-trained music producer trained under such legendary composers as Antonín Dvořák and served in the Austro-Hungarian Imperial Army with the “Austrian March King” Josef Wagner.
Fucik so loved to compose marches, he pretty much served in the Austrian military just to do that. By 1897 he had joined the Army twice in order to play music.
It was that same year, while in the 86th Infantry Regiment in Sarajevo that he composed “Einzug der Gladiatoren” — “Entrance of the Gladiators.”More than 120 years later, the cultural meaning of the song has sure changed. No longer associated with martial might, the song is now more easily teamed up with clowns, lions, and everything else in a modern three-ring circus.
What happened was his work was rearranged for a smaller band by Canadian Louis-Philippe Laurendeau in 1910, who called his version “Thunder and Blazes.”The music website Sound And The Foley points out that this was the same time when circuses like PT Barnum’s and the Ringling Brothers’ were becoming a strong cultural phenomenon in the United States.
Though no one knows just how and when the song first became inextricably linked with the circus or even which circus used it first, the fact is that the two are now culturally linked.
Both Laurendeau and Fucik died in 1916, never knowing their work become synonymous with the circus…instead of being battle anthems.