Adventures in the Public Domain: Entrance of the Gladiators

28 04 2010

Have you ever heard that circus clown song? You know the one. Here, I’ll just play it for you.

If you didn’t notice the song title, it’s actually called “Entrance of the Gladiators.” I know, right? Doesn’t really seem like “gladiator”-type music. It seems infinitely more suited as a soundtrack to comic capering than it does cold-blooded murder in the name of entertainment. But then, there’s a fine line nowadays.

The song was originally composed as a military march in 1897 by Julius Fucik. A largely unknown composer named Louis-Phillipe Larendeau recorded the song with a small band under the title “Thunder and Blazes” in 1910. This version became popular with circus folk, who played it much faster than the traditional march tempo it was written for. The song became famous for it’s association with circus performances, for which it has become a cultural icon. If Larendeau hadn’t recorded a new arrangement of the song, it wouldn’t have caught on with circuses. Without the circuses, the tempo wouldn’t have increased, and we wouldn’t have the familiar “Entrance of the Gladiators” that we know and love today. If anybody in the world remembers the name of Julius Fucik, it’s because of the hard work of thousands of men named “Bobo.”

Because of it’s notoriety, it’s been reincarnated in various other works of popular music, from the sublime:

To the instantly forgettable:

To the unforgivably terrible:

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