Julius Fucik was a Czech composer and conductor of military bands. Today his marches are still played as patriotic music in the Czech Republic. However, his worldwide reputation rests on one work: his Opus 68 march, the Entrance of the Gladiators (Vjezd gladiatoru), which is universally recognized, often under the title Thunder and Blazes, as one of the most popular theme tunes for circus clowns.
"Entrance of the Gladiators" or "Entry of the Gladiators" (Czech: Vjezd gladiátorů, German: Einzug der Gladiatoren) is a military march composed in 1897 by the Czech composer Julius Fučík. He originally titled it "Grande Marche Chromatique," reflecting the use of chromatic scales throughout the piece, but changed the title based on his personal interest in the Roman Empire.
In 1910 Canadian composer Louis-Philippe Laurendeau arranged "Entrance of the Gladiators" for a small band under the title "Thunder and Blazes", and sold this version throughout North America. It was during this period that the song gained lasting popularity as a screamer march for circuses, often used to introduce clowns. Today it is known mainly by this association, even though the title and composer are relatively obscure. Laurendeau's version was also transcribed for fairground organs.