Entrance of the Gladiators

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"Entrance of the Gladiators" op. 68 or "Entry of the Gladiators" (Czech: Vjezd gladiátorů) is a military march composed in 1897 by the Czech composer Julius Fučík. He originally titled it "Grande Marche Chromatique", reflecting the use of chromatic scales throughout the piece, but changed the title based on his personal interest in the Roman Empire.

Generally, the march is divided into three parts. The first part contains the melody that the trumpet keeps and the several supporting parts. The second third is the section where the low brass (mainly the tubas) take over with the chromatic scale like role. Finally there is a trio, or a softer melodic section, where there is a strong balance between woodwinds and low brass. The trio has a part similar to the second third with a chromatic scale-like sound. The piece is written in cut time and is originally written to be played at standard march tempo, but when played as a screamer it is usually played much faster.


Music composer Julius Fučík

Czech composer Julius Fučík wrote the march on October 17, 1899 in Sarajevo, where he had been stationed as military bandmaster of the Austro-Hungarian Army since 1897. Originally, he called the piece Grande Marche Chromatique. The march demonstrates the state of the art in playing technology and the construction of brass instruments, which allowed fast and even chromatic gears in all instruments and positions. Fučík was so impressed by the description of a gladiator appearance in a Roman amphitheater in Henryk Sienkiewicz's novel Quo Vadis (1895, German: 1896) that he soon changed the title of his work. The phrase "entry of the gladiators" is known in two descriptions of Pompeii in 1877 and is probably older.

On January 10, 1900 Kapellmeister Anton Fridrich (1849-1924, Khevenhüller-Marsch) created an arrangement for string orchestra for himself in Graz. In July 1900, the "Concert March for large orchestra", published by Hoffmann’s widow in Prague, is listed under the title Einzug der Gladiatoren by Hofmeister. Further edits followed. In 1903 one of the H.M. Coldstream Guard Band's pre-recorded clay roller advertised by Columbia Records titled Entry of the Gladiators. In the same year a piano score with the title Entry of the Gladiators / Thunder and Blazes ('Donner und Feuersbrünste') was released. The phrase Entrance of the Gladiators, which has existed since at least the 18th century, is also common in English.

Hermann Ludwig Blankenburg published his farewell to the gladiators at the latest in 1904. In 1928, both pieces were recorded by the "Great Odeon Orchestra" on a plate (No. 85204).


In 1901, the Canadian composer Louis-Philippe Laurendeau rewrote the piece, used a faster tempo and a different key and published it as Thunder and Blazes. Laurendeau often worked for Carl Fischer Music in New York. Americans are used to hearing the march at a much faster pace. The piece became known in the North American circus and imported back to Europe. Especially in a very fast version, it is the most famous circus music for clowns. It is also often found in the repertoire of mechanical music automatons.

In 1901, American publisher Carl Fischer published a version of this march, arranged for American wind bands by Canadian composer Louis-Philippe Laurendeau, under the title "Thunder and Blazes".[1] It was during this period that the piece gained lasting popularity as a screamer march[2] for circuses, often used to introduce clowns. Today it is known mainly by this association. Laurendeau's version was also transcribed for fairground organs.

The Julius Fučík's Entrance of the Gladiators is also quoted in the 1963 novelty song "Yakety Sax",[3] which have been parodied in many movies and TV shows, including V for Vendetta, Doctor Who, The Simpsons, Family Guy, and South Park. The march receives the occasional concert hall performance, such as at the 2007 Last Night of the Proms.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Thunder and Blazes". BandMusic PDF Library. Retrieved 2015-11-18.
  2. ^ Latten, James E.; Chevallard, Carl (September 2004). "Review: Teaching Music Through Performing Marches". Music Educators Journal. 91 (1): 62–63. doi:10.2307/3400112. JSTOR 3400112.
  3. ^ "Boots Randolph's 'Yakety Sax' - Discover the Sample Source". WhoSampled. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  4. ^ Edward Seckerson (2007-09-11). "Last Night of the Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London". The Independent. Retrieved 2008-09-21.

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