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Gustav Holst

Gustav Holst: The Planets Suite Music derived from astrology is surprisingly rare. The ancient Greek philosophers, whatever their intellectual attitudes towards astrology may have been, were certainly not ignorant of astrological teachings and ideas. It was they, after all who put forward the idea of the "Music of the Spheres", the idea that these vast objects twirling around and whirling through space, must have hummed a tone as they went along their courses, much as a ball spun on a string will whistle. They knew of seven planets: Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Not surprisingly, western music evolved with seven-tone scales. Music and astrology come together again in this suite devoted to the seven planets, though Uranus and Neptune have displaced the Sun and Moon. Gustav Holst (1874-1934) was apparently fascinated by various esoteric pursuits, such as astrology and Hindu philosophy, suggesting in particular a yearning to get to grips with matters of a spiritual nature. How far he got in this pursuit is unclear, but what is quite beyond doubt is the fact that The Planets is a deeply spiritual work, reaching a level of spirit expression that is rarely experienced in other works. Even without this added strength, the whole work is a sonic spectacle and has so many wonderfully exotic harmonies. Coloration, dramatic contrast and inventiveness make this the work of a genius. It was first performed in the autumn of 1918. Bodine 2Gustav Holst (1874-1934) was a contemporary composer, who is best known for his composition, "The Planets". He was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, in western England. He was an organist and choirmaster at the local Gloucestershire church, but he had neuritis in his right hand, which kept him from playing the organ. Since his neuritis kept him from playing the organ, Holst then turned to the trombone. From 1895 to 1898, he studied composition at the Royal College of Music. ...

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