Vjezd gladiátorů, usually translated into English as Entry of the Gladiators or Entrance of the Gladiators, is an immensely famous work of music; any culturally literate American will recognize the introductory blast of trumpets and the following melody, although they will likely have no idea who composed it, or even that it was once a serious composition that people might go to a symphony orchestra to listen too. Instead, they will simply identify it as 'the circus music'.

The piece was first penned in 1897 by Czech composer Julius Fučík; it was his Opus 68 march, and he originally named it Grande Marche Chromatique; he changed this because he found it particularly evocative of the glorious battles to the death in the days of the Roman Empire. It was written as a military march during the time that Fučík was working in the Czech army as the bandleader for the 86th Infantry Regiment in Sarajevo.

In 1910 a Canadian composer, Louis-Philippe Laurendeau arranged Entry of the Gladiators for a smaller concert or military band. He renamed it Thunder and Blazes, by which name it is still known today (generally credited to 'Fučík-Laurendeau'). This version was sold throughout North America, and quickly gained popularity as a 'screamer march' for carnivals and circuses, used to work the crowed into an excited frenzy. These screamer marches usually had quicker tempos than traditional marches, making them sound a little bit comical compared to the original. In part because of this, it was often used to introduce clowns, although its use was certainly not limited to this.

The central theme from Entry of the Gladiators has been used in numerous pop songs, including Goodbye Cruel World ny James Darren (You Tube), The Show Must Go On by Three Dog Night, Don't Get It Twisted by Gwen Stefani, Amusement Park by 50 Cent, Hokus Pokus by Insane Clown Posse, and of course Madagascar 3's Afro Circus. Yackity Sax also contains a few snippets of Entry of the Gladiators, although they are few and far between.

YouTube: Entry Of The Gladiators

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