Holst joined the Hammersmith society thanks to the influence of William Morris. Where he also studied under George Bernard Shaw, who convinced him to become a vegetarian, also conducted the Hammersmith Socalist Choir, he taught them the works of Wagner, Mozart, and Thomas Morley
Holst wanted to make a career out of being a piano player but gave it up for the trombone which he was far better at. Holst ended up dying in 1934 of illness.
Holst spent 3 years between james Allen and St Pauls. He spent the rest of his life as the music director at Morely College.
In Spain he met Clifford bax who introduced him to astrology, this hobby inspired him to create The Planets which is largely agreed to be his best piece of work.
Even with the technology of the times this was considered to be incredible. Egdon heath was considered to be a bad piece, many had thought he lost his touch when he wrote it. Today it is considered to be one of his top pieces.
His influence of Astrology came when he traveled to Spain and met Clifford Bax. The book What is a Horoscope by Alan Leo gave Holst most of his info
Neptune used an organ because Holst felt that that it sounded more mysterious and was capable of portraying it in the way it needed to be. Holst later said that the piece was influenced by Nikolai Korosakov and Alexander Glazunov
Pluto was not defined as a planet at the time so it was not included in the movement. The first time it was publicly played was in 1920 by the London Symphony Orchestra. It was conducted by Albert Coates.
At :47 the low voices make themselves present keeping the dark Tone that Holst wants you to fill in Mars. At about 1:30 the dark tone is still present and the music begins to sound more menacing as the orchestra increases its dynamic level.
At 3 the tempo slows dramatically to emphasize the change. Holst said it was made so dark at the point to really put a across the terrible feelings of war. I found it interesting at this portion of the piece because I found that it seemed the music started on two separate sides as if the were building up to meet in the middle.
At this point the piece is trying to accent the emotions of anger and excitement which are rampant in war. The end of the piece leaves a lingering dark menacing tone to reinstate the effect that Holst was trying to instill.
Its easy to note at the very start of this piece that it is a much happier tone, unlike Mars. As the piece progresses Holst is trying to portray as sense of drive as it builds up. At 3:11 its interesting to note that the harp and basses have a down beat giving it a much more emotional and expressive section that the more upbeat beginning
Around 4:00 a much darker tone is present as Holst tries to paint a picture of overcoming adversity. As it climaxes the tone is dark and expressive and happier than any point in the piece thus far. As the piece starts to die down Holst has the Woodwinds replay previous themes to give the piece a very bouncy tone as if to say it is joy from accomplishment
At 5:30 the theme is to build up the motion towards the next section of music. There is a dark tone with heavier accents and more exposed brass with the exchange of melodies. Its important to note that the entire orchestra ends on a staccato and rings with one note to accent what I believe to be Holst trying to show as the final accomplishment of reaching joy.
Gustav Holst The Planets By Spencer Vail
His Life• Born September 21st 1874 in Gloucestershire, England• Father: Adolph Holst was a harp composer• Due to constant illness as a child he picked up music quite easily.• Began composing around 12• As a child could play the piano, violin and trombone
His Life Cont.• Educated at Cheltenham grammar school for boys• Attended Royal college of Music on scholarship, where he studied composition with Charles Stanford• Met best friend Ralph Wiliams
His Life Cont.• While at Royal college Holst obsessively began studying the music of Wagner.• Joined the Hammersmith society while at Royal• Holst became a socialist for the rest of his life.
His Life Cont.• First music job was with Carl Rosa Opera Company and the Scottish Orchestra• Married in 1901 to Emily Harrison, a soprano.• His only daughter was born in 1907 her name was Imogen
His Life Cont.• First teaching job was being a music master at the James Allen Girls school in London.• Shortly later became the Director of Music at St Pauls Girls school.• Finally he took a position of the Director of Music at Morely College.
His Life Cont.• Holst traveled to Algeria in 1908, this experience inspired the piece Beni Mora• Holst was a frequent traveler of the world.• His Travels to Spain were his most important
His Life Cont.• While living in Essex, Holst began work on the Planets.• In 1922 he used technological advances to record his music with the London Symphony Orechestra, and did a complete recording of The Planets.• Later in 1927 Holst composed the piece Egdon Heath
His Life Cont.• Holst suffered from poor health his entire life and finally died in London following a stomach surgery in May of 1934.
Composition History:The Planets• The Planets as a whole is based on Astrology.• Despite common belief Holst based this piece on the influence the planets have on the psych no the Roman Dieties.• The idea of The Planets came to Holst in 1913 while in Spain.
Composition History Continued• The Planets was done originally as a piano duet, except for Neptune which was to be done by an organ alone.• Holst later rewrote the whole piece to be done by an entire orchestra.
Composition History Cont.• The Planets was written to be a seven movement orchestra piece.• It was officially created in between 1914 and 1916 while Holst lived in Essex.• Each movement was named after a separate planet, excluding Earth• Since produced as a full orchestra piece it has become one of the most widely played and popular pieces.
Listening Guide The Planets: Mars• :32 the entire Orchestra begins a crescendo.• :47 orchestra plays at a dynamic level of a strong Mezzo forte.• 1:00 Strings join the brass in playing the melody till it climaxes to a cadence• 1:25 The brass plays a new melody with the trumpets becoming the lead voice
Mars Continued• 3:00 A slower melody is played by the orchestra in a lower voice.• This part of the piece the over all sound becomes incredibly dark and mysterious.• At 3:27 The trumpets and snare drums play an accented triplets to build up before the next climax.
Mars Continud• 4:12 this is the climax of the piece here the whole orchestra is playing at a dynamic level to in a dark tone.• Later around 4:38 the dynamic level drops to a forte level. The sound being produced is dark and aggressive.• At the end around 6:34 the strings add the final build to the end of the piece and finally end on a tonic cord.
The Planets:Jupiter• :30 The strings being with repeated sixteenth notes followed by horns and low brass exchanging melody• At 1:45 the horns start a new melody with the strings playing down the beats.• 3:11 starts with the strings playing a unison line with a crescendo up to the top phrase.
Jupiter Continued• 4:00 the range of the melody is in a much higher range played by the strings.• 4:38 Section C climaxes, the downbeats continue to be strong with the strings at a fortissimo dynamic level• 5:03 the woodwinds reintroduce previously played themes with the clarinet, flute, and oboe
Jupiter Continued• 5:26 The brass join the woodwinds in playing reintroduced previous themes.• 6:47 There is a key change and a driving motion with an increased tempo, the trumpets become quite loud and exchange melody with the horns and low strings.• 7:26 A recapitulation of section C combined with the melody of Section B with low voices playing the melody.• The piece ends with low brass and percussion playing quite fortissimo and short sixteenth notes, while the strings and high woodwinds play a repeated pattern similar to the opening section.