In America, the circus dates back to the late 18th century. Still touring today, the circus has had an interesting and important role in our history. Before modern recording technology, musicians would travel with circuses to provide live music. Bands, and especially brass instruments, were suited for this type of show because of the tone and loud volume.
Karl King, notable march composer, played the baritone in a circus band when he was young. Here is a picture of his group. He is the baritone on the left of the tuba.
These musicians were on the go as they traveled around the country. Some groups performed with other circus acts in parades. They would either march or use other means of travel. Here are some pictures of brass players on top of elephants as they traveled.
The history of circus musicians has been neglected. It would be a great topic for further research. Here is a video of a brass group playing the piece most often associated with circuses, the Thunder and Blazes March (aka Entrance of the Gladiators).
The pictures on this post were found on the following websites:
For more information about circuses, please see the following websites: