Julius Fucik holds a position in Czech musical culture that is an amalgamation of Johann Strauss II's reputation in Austria and John Philip Sousa's in America. From 1885 to 1891 he studied violin and bassoon at the Prague Conservatory, and took composition lessons from Dvorák. Upon graduation he played bassoon for three years in the band of the 49th Austro-Hungarian Regiment, under famed band conductor/composer J.F. Wagner. His fondness for his instrument later led to substantial bassoon solos in some compositions, notably the character piece The Old Grumbler.
After that initial band service, Fucik got a job as a bassoonist at the German opera theater in Prague, also playing in the Czech Wind Trio and later moving on to a theater-orchestra position in Zagreb. In 1897 he made yet another career move with his appointment as bandmaster of the 86th Austro-Hungarian Regiment, which was ultimately stationed in Budapest. Fucik transferred to the 92nd Regiment at what is now Terezin in 1910; he led the band on summer tours of small Bohemian towns, and directed a season of winter concerts in Prague. Fucik retired in 1913, married, and settled in Berlin, where he formed a Czech-flavored orchestra and founded a publishing firm, Tempo Verlag. His early, active retirement was abbreviated, though; Fucik succumbed to cancer in 1916. He had written almost 300 marches and dances for band, many of which were orchestrated, as well as chamber pieces and sacred music, including a Requiem. His most familiar piece in Europe is his Florentine March; in the United States he is best known for his Entrance of the Gladiators, a grossly accelerated version of which has long been a staple of circus bands.