ABOUT GUSTAV HOLST

Mr. Gustav Holst

GUSTAV HOLST was a quiet, shy man who was deeply immersed in the world of music. He was born in England on September 14th., 1874. His father was a pianist from Sweden, and both his Grandfather and Great-Grandfather were composers. Holst studied at the Royal College of Music in London and began his musical career as a professional trombonist. In his yourth he travelled extensively in the East, where he developed his interest in mythology and mysticism, especially within the Hindu tradition. He left his job as a musician to become a teacher, eventually becoming head of the music departments at both St.Paul's Girl's School and Morley College, teaching posts he would hold for the rest of his life. He died on May 25, 1934, in London.

Holst's best known work is "The Planets" (1914-1917). Other well known works by Holst are "St.Paul's Suite for Strings" (1914), "The Hymn of Jesus" (1917), "Ode to Death" (1919), and several works based on Sanskrit texts, such as the opera "Savitri" (1908) and several choral pieces inspired by the Rigveda. Holst drew musical inspiration from both the traditions of English folk music and the innovations of contemporary composers like Stravinsky or Ravel. His innovative blending of the traditional folk music and the cutting edge of his time make "The Planets" a great piece of music, and the influence of his style can be felt even today in the soundtracks and symphonies of modern composers.

If you're interested in hearing "The Planets", I suggest finding a recording of Zubin Mehta conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic, or George Bernstien conducting the New York Symphony Orchestra. These are the versions I've heard and liked, and I recommend them.

(Biographical facts obtained from Encyclopedia Britannica and Colliers Encyclopedia)