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Julius Fučík

Julius Ernst Wilhelm Fučík (18 July 187215 September 1916) was a Czech composer and conductor of military bands.

Fučík spent most of his life as the leader of military brass bands. He became a prolific composer, with over 300 march, polkas, and waltzes to his name. As most of his work was for military bands, he is sometimes known as the "Bohemian Sousa".

Today his marches are still played as patriotic music in the Czech Republicmarker. However, his world-wide reputation rests on one work: his Opus 68 march, the Entrance of the Gladiators (Vjezd gladiátorů), which is universally recognized as the theme tune of clowns in a circus. (This march is also known by the title Thunder and Blazes.) Despite being so widely known, the tune's original name and composer are relatively obscure.

Another composition, The Florentiner March, composed as a grand march for an opera never completed, isn't as popular as Entrance of the Gladiators, but it is regularly performed and recorded by wind ensembles.

Fučík was the uncle of the journalist Julius Fučík, murdered by the Nazi regime.


Fučík was born in Praguemarker on July 18, 1872 when Prague was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. As a student, he learned to play the bassoon with Ludwig Milde, violin with Antonín Bennewitz, and various percussion instruments, later studying composition under Antonín Dvořák.

In 1891, he joined the 49th Austro-Hungarian Regiment as a military musician. He initially played in Krems by the Danube under Josef Wagner and later joined Karl Komzak's military band in Viennamarker. In 1895 Fučík left the army to take up a position as second bassoonist at the German Theatremarker in Prague. A year later he became the principal conductor of the Prague City Orchestra as well as the conductor of the Danica Choir in the Croatianmarker city of Sisakmarker. During this time, Fučík wrote a number of chamber music pieces, mostly for clarinet and bassoon.

In 1897, he rejoined the army as the bandmaster for the 86th Infantry Regiment based in Sarajevomarker. Shortly after, he wrote his most famous piece, the Einzug der Gladiatoren or Entrance of the Gladiators. Fučík's interest in Roman history led him to name the march as he did. The tune is now universally associated with the appearance of the clowns in a circus performance. In its circus context, the tune is also known by the title Thunder and Blazes.

In 1900, Fučík's band was moved to Budapestmarker where Fučík found there were nine regimental bands ready to play his compositions, but he also faced more competition to get noticed. Having more musicians at his disposal, Fučík began to experiment with transcriptions of orchestral works.

In 1909, Fučík moved again, returning to Bohemia where he became the bandmaster of the 92nd Infantry Regiment in Theresienstadtmarker. At the time, the band was one of the finest in the Austro-Hungarian empire, and Fučík toured with them giving concerts in Praguemarker and Berlinmarker to audiences of over 10,000 people.

In 1913, Fučík married and settled in Berlin where he started his own band, the Prager Tonkünstler-Orchester, and a music publishing company, Apollo Verlag, to market his compositions. His fortunes began to wane with the outbreak of the First World War. Under the privations of the war, Fučík's business failed and his health suffered. On September 25, 1916, Julius Fučík died near Berlin at the age of 44. He is buried in Prague.

Selected works

  • Vjezd gladiátorů (1899)
  • Florentinský pochod (Florentiner March) (1907)
  • Boží bojovníci (1911)
  • Danubia (1899)
  • Fantastický pochod (Marche fantastique) (1904)
  • Hercegovac (1908)
  • (The) Mississippi River (1902)
  • Pod admirálskou vlajkou (1901)
  • Salve Imperator (1898)
  • Stále vpřed (Sempre avanti) (1904)
  • Stráž Slovanstva (1907)
  • Triglav (1900)
  • Vítězný meč
  • Veselí venkovští kováři
  • Zvuky fanfár

Waltzes and polkas
  • Virtuoso polka for fagot Starý bručoun (1907)
  • Ideály snů - waltz
  • Od břehu Dunaje - waltz
  • Dunajské pohádky - waltz
  • Zimní bouře - waltz
  • Baletky - waltz
  • Escarpolette - waltz

  • Concertant overtures Marinarella (1907) and Miramare
  • Symphonic suite Život (Life) (1907)
  • Chamber compositions for clarinet a bassoon


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