Composers Datebook®

Fucik joins the circus?

Julius Fucik (1872 - 1916): The Old Bear with a Sore Head (Alan Pendlebury, bassoon; Royal Liverpool Philharmonic; Libor Pesek, cond.) Virgin 59285 Julius Fucik (1872 - 1916): Entry of the Gladiators (Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra; Frederick Fennell, cond.) Brain 7503


Composer's Datebook - July 18, 2021

2:00


July 18, 2021

Synopsis

Today we celebrate the birthday of one of Dvorak’s composition pupils: one Julius Fucik, who was born in Prague on today’s date in 1872. Fucik studied with Dvorak at the Prague Conservatory, where he also took lessons in violin and bassoon – and perhaps only a bassoonist could have conceived of a work with a prominent bassoon part entitled “The Old Bear with a Sore Head.”


In 1897 he was appointed bandmaster of the 86th Austro-Hungarian Regiment and started writing works for wind band. Fucik’s first appointment with the Regiment took him to Sarajevo, and in 1910 he became bandmaster of the 92nd Regiment stationed at Theresienstadt, or Terezin as the town is now called. Now, in the years before World War I, “Sarajevo” and “Theresienstadt” did not have the ominous connotations of political assassination, concentration camps, and ethnic cleansing that they do for us today.

Fucik retired from the military in 1913 and died in Berlin in 1916.

But speaking of connotations, even if you’ve never heard of Julius Fuick, chances are you’ve heard his “Entry of the Gladiators,”, since it was taken up by American circus bands as the unofficial anthem of life under the big top.

Music Played in Today's Program

Julius Fucik (1872 - 1916): The Old Bear with a Sore Head (Alan Pendlebury, bassoon; Royal Liverpool Philharmonic; Libor Pesek, cond.) Virgin 59285

Julius Fucik (1872 - 1916): Entry of the Gladiators (Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra; Frederick Fennell, cond.) Brain 7503

On This Day

Births

  • 1670 - Italian opera composer Giovanni Bononcini, in Modena; In 1720 he joined the Royal Academy of Music in London, where one faction favored Bononcini's works over those by Handel

  • 1821 - French mezzo-soprano PaulineViardot-Garcia; She arranged some of Chopin's mazurkas as songs and performed them with the composer in concert; She also wrote an opera, "La Derniére Sorcière," that was performed in Weimar in 1869, and a chamber opera version of "Cendrillon (Cinderella)" which was performed privately in 1904

  • 1872 - Czech composer Julius Fucik, in Prague; A student of Dvorák's, he composed the famous "circus" march, "Entrance of the Gladiators";

  • 1894 - Dutch-born American composer Bernard Wagenaar, in Arnhem; He was the son of the Dutch composer Johan Wagenaar (1862-1941); He came to the U.S. in 1920, was a violinist with the New York Philharmonic from 1921-23, and in 1927 became a composition teacher at the Juilliard Graduate School

  • 1933 - Canadian composer R. Murray Schafrer, in Sarnia, Ontario

  • 1954 - American composer Tobias Picker, in New York

Deaths

  • 1949 - Czech composer Vitezslav Novák, age 78, in Skutec, Slovakia

Premieres

  • 1713 - Handel: "Utrecht Te Deum," in London (Julian date: July 7)

  • 1791 - Cherubini: opera, "Lodoiska, in Paris

  • 1920 - Miaskovsky: Symphony No. 5, in Moscow

  • 1972 - Panufnik: Violin Concerto, in London, with Yehudi Menuhin as soloist

  • 1976 - Stockhausen: multi-media work "Sirius," in Washington, D.C., at the Smithsonian Institute

  • 1984 - Sallinen: String Quartet No. 5 ("Pieces of Mosaic"), at the Kuhmo Festival in Finland, by the Kronos Quartet