- Mississippi River, march for orchestra, Op. 160
- Die Regimentskinder Marsch (Children of the Regiment), Op. 169
- Winterstürme (Winter Storms), for orchestra, Op. 184
- Der Alte Brummbar (The Old Grumbler), comic polka for bassoon & orchestra, Op. 210
- Donausagen (Danube Legends), waltz for orchestra, Op. 233
Best known for his ubiquitous circus march, "Entry of the Gladiators" (also known as "Thunder and Blazes"), Julius Fucík, the "Bohemian Sousa", was a prolific composer of band and orchestral music in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While his marches, waltzes, and polkas are still popular in the Czech Republic, they have largely faded from the Western orchestral repertoire. Neeme Järvi and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra have released this hybrid SACD collection on Chandos to revive some tuneful bonbons that deserve a fresh reassessment and a place on programs of light music. In addition to "Entry of the Gladiators," highlights of this album include the "Florentiner March," "Danube Legends," "Little Ballerinas," and "Under the Admiral's Flag," which are examples of Fucík's infectious melodies, rousing rhythms, and zestful orchestration. The multichannel recording offers a spacious ambience that fully accommodates the orchestra's bold, brassy quality.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Festival of Fucík based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Most people have never heard of Julius Ernst Wilhelm Fucik -- although they're very familiar with his music. Fucik, sometimes called the "Bohemian Sousa" wrote a work entitled "Entrance for the Gladiators" in 1887. It was quickly adopted by circus bands, and is now known almost exclusively as the clown's entrance music. Neemi Jarvi and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra do an admirable job stripping away almost a century of circus music tradition to get at the heart of this work. Originally it was a slow, dignified march that (hopefully) conjured up the glory of Rome. In that, they succeed. The "Entrance of the Gladiators" sounds like a late romantic characteristic piece, more in line with the rest of Fucik's ouevre. Fucik's musical career included stints with military bands, so it's no surprise that his marches have all the appropriate flourishes and gestures. In that regard, his music does have a superficial resemblance to Sousa's. Fucik, though, was a student of Dvorak and to my ears his music has a distinctively European sound. This recital features several concert works by Fucik, including "The Old Grumbler," a showpiece for bassoon (an instrument Fucik played). Also included are some of his waltzes and other short orchestral works, making for a well-balanced program. There's no question that these are light classical works. But Fucik is an imaginative composer, and these pieces sparkle and shine in an appealing way. If you have the choice, I recommend purchasing the SACD version of this release. The added detail SACD playback brings to the music made me fully appreciate Fucik's talents as an orchestrator -- and the performing ability of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under Neemi Jarvi.
While the name, Julius Ernst Fucik (1872-1916), may not be readily familiar, one brief march he composed is known far and wide because of its association with, of all the things, the circus. We are, of course, talking about Entry of the Gladiators from 1899. It became known as Thunder and Blazes when it was later arranged for band and consequently took on a new life vis-à-vis the “Big Top”. However, there is much more to consider than this one huge success. Fucik wrote countless waltzes, polkas and marches throughout his distinguished career. This excellent new disc offers a generous helping of goodies. As you might expect, there is nothing groundbreaking or challenging here. Instead, we have a wealth of good tunes, infectious rhythms and piquant orchestrations. Maestro Jarvi and his former band the SNO embrace this material with punch, swagger and a true sense of occasion. If Maestro Jarvi seems to drive his players here and there, no matter, this material actually benefits by such an approach. The SA recorded sound is vivid and three dimensional: a real orchestra captured in a real space. Chandos would hardly deliver anything less. For a good cross section of Fucik’s art, try the following tracks: 2, 8, 9, 11, 13 and 22.