Julius Fučík, "Florentiner Marsch, 'Grande marcia Italiana,' Op. 214" Program Note
Florentiner Marsch, “Grande marcia Italiana,” Op. 214
Born: July 18, 1872, Prague, Bohemia
Died: September 25, 1916, Berlin, Germany
Duration: 6 minutes
The Florentiner Marsch, “Grande marcia Italiana,” was written in 1907 by the prolific Bohemian (Czech) composer and bandmaster Julius Fučik in Budapest, then the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This seemingly incongruous set of particulars can be explained by the musical trends of the time – many European composers were writing in styles that implied the exoticism of other lands, including Russia, Spain, and in this case, Italy. The Florentiner bears the subtitle Grande marcia Italiana, with the main title giving homage to Florence, Italy; Fučik’s original title for the march was, in fact, "La Rosa di Toscana."
Much like John Philip Sousa, the hundreds of compositions written by “The Bohemian Sousa” stretch far beyond mere marches, with Fučik having also written operettas, masses, chamber music, and a symphonic suite. Similar to Sousa’s Free Lance March, The Florentiner is seemingly an operetta in condensed form. As band scholar Norman Smith has noted,
One can imagine the theater curtains opening to two trumpet fanfares followed by a stately march as the residents of that grand city rush to welcome the large entourage of a nobleman, with flowers thrown by the crowd to the procession. Suddenly, our nobleman sees a beautiful courtesan and the two converse in a gentle interlude that becomes quieter as the conversation gets more personal. Chirps from the woodwinds denote the start of gossip by the village women in response. The brass give a loud proclamation that the couple are to be wed and a celebratory theme concludes the happy scene as the curtains close.
Julius Fučík, Florentiner Marsch, "Grande marcia Italiana," Op. 214
This post also appeared on umwindorchestra.org.