Gustav Holst

~ Person


Gustav Theodore Holst (born Gustavus Theodore von Holst; 21 September 1874 – 25 May 1934) was an English composer, arranger and teacher. Best known for his orchestral suite The Planets, he composed a large number of other works across a range of genres, although none achieved comparable success. His distinctive compositional style was the product of many influences, Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss being most crucial early in his development. The subsequent inspiration of the English folksong revival of the early 20th century, and the example of such rising modern composers as Maurice Ravel, led Holst to develop and refine an individual style.

There were professional musicians in the previous three generations of Holst's family, and it was clear from his early years that he would follow the same calling. He hoped to become a pianist, but was prevented by neuritis in his right arm. Despite his father's reservations, he pursued a career as a composer, studying at the Royal College of Music under Charles Villiers Stanford. Unable to support himself by his compositions, he played the trombone professionally and later became a teacher—a great one, according to his colleague Ralph Vaughan Williams. Among other teaching activities he built up a strong tradition of performance at Morley College, where he served as musical director from 1907 until 1924, and pioneered music education for women at St Paul's Girls' School, where he taught from 1905 until his death in 1934, raising standards and so laying the foundation for several professional musicians. He was the founder of a series of Whitsun music festivals, which ran from 1916 for the remainder of his life. Holst's works were played frequently in the early years of the 20th century, but it was not until the international success of The Planets in the years immediately after the First World War that he became a well-known figure. A shy man, he did not welcome this fame, and preferred to be left in peace to compose and teach.

In his later years his uncompromising, personal style of composition struck many music lovers as too austere, and his brief popularity declined. Nevertheless, he was a significant influence on a number of younger English composers, including Edmund Rubbra, Michael Tippett and Benjamin Britten. Apart from The Planets and a handful of other works, his music was generally neglected until the 1980s, since when recordings of much of his output have been available.

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Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1956 The Planets (1954 recording) Gustav Holst; Philharmonic Promenade Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult 1
1971 The Planets Gustav Holst; Boston Symphony Orchestra, William Steinberg 3
1973 The Planets Holst; New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein 3
1974 The Planets Gustav Holst; The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, George Hurst 1
1975 The Planets, Suite for Large Orchestra, op. 32 Gustav Holst; Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Walter Süsskind 4
1976 The Planets Gustav Holst; London Philharmonic Orchestra, Bernard Herrmann 2
1978 Holst: The Planets / Elgar: Pomp and Circumstance Marches Holst, Elgar; Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest, Sir Neville Marriner 6
1978 Wind Music of Holst and Vaughan Williams Holst, Vaughan Williams; London Wind Orchestra, Denis Wick 1
1979 The Planets (1978 recording) Gustav Holst; London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult 4
1979 The Planets Gustav Holst; London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Georg Solti 4
1979 The Planets Holst; Boston Symphony Orchestra, Seiji Ozawa 2
1981 The Planets, Op. 32 Gustav Holst; Orchestre National de France, Lorin Maazel 2
1985 Bax: Oboe Quintet / Holst: Air and Variations / Three Pieces / Jacob: Oboe Quartet / Moeran: Fantasy Quartet Bax, Holst, Jacob, Moeran; Sarah Francis, English String Quartet 1
1985 The Planets: Composer's Original Two-Piano Version Holst; Richard Markham, David Nettle 1
1986 The Planets Holst; Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Davis 3
1986 The Planets, op. 32 Holst; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, André Previn 2
1986 The Planets Gustav Holst; Boston Pops, John Williams 1
1986 The Planets, Op. 32 Gustav Holst; Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Sir Andrew Davis 1
1987 The Planets Holst; Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Charles Dutoit 3
1987 The Planets Holst; Ambrosian Singers, Philharmonia Orchestra, Simon Rattle 1
1987 The Planets Gustav Holst; Wiener Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan 2
1987 The Planets Gustav Holst; Richard Rodney Bennett, Susan Bradshaw 1
1988 The Planets Holst; Veinna State Opera Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult 1
1988 The Planets: Suite for Orchestra Gustav Holst; London Symphony Orchestra, Richard Hickox 2
1989 The Evening Watch and Other Choral Music Gustav Holst; The Holst Orchestra, Holst Singers, Hilary Davan Wetton 1
1989 The Planets / St Paul's Suite Gustav Holst; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Charles Groves 2
1989 The Planets Op. 32 Gustav Holst; London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult 2
1989 The Planets, op. 32 Holst; Hallé Orchestra, James Loughran 1
1990 The Planets Holst; Berliner Philharmoniker, Sir Colin Davis 2
1990 The Cloud Messenger, Op. 30 / The Hymn of Jesus, Op. 37 Gustav Holst; London Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Chorus, Richard Hickox 1
1990 The Planets Holst; Chicago Symphony Orchestra, James Levine 2
1990 The Planets Gustav Holst; New York Philharmonic, Zubin Mehta 4
1991 The Planets Gustav Holst; Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Charles Mackerras 2
1991 The Planets Gustav Holst; London Festival Orchestra, Ross Pople 1
1991 The Planets Holst; Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Chorus, Eduardo Mata 1
1991 The Planets / Suite de Ballet, op. 10 Holst; CSR Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava), Adrian Leaper 2
1991 The Planets / The Perfect Fool Gustav Holst; Philharmonia Orchestra, William Boughton 1
1992 The Planets Gustav Holst; Scottish National Orchestra, Sir Alexander Gibson 1
1992 Music for Strings Elgar, Grieg, Delius, Warlock, Holst; Scottish Ensemble, Jonathan Rees 1
1992 The Planets Gustav Holst; RTV Chamber Choir Ljubljana, Simfonični orkester RTV Slovenija 1
1993 The Planets Holst; Berliner Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan 2
1993 Brook Green Suite & other works Holst; New Zealand Chamber Orchestra, Nicholas Braithwaite 1
1993 Choral Symphony / Choral Fantasia Holst; Lynne Dawson, Guildford Choral Society, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Hilary Davan Wetton 2
1993 Suite No. 1 / A Moorside Suite / Suite No. 2 / Hammersmith Gustav Holst; Dallas Wind Symphony, Howard Dunn 1
1993 The Planets Gustav Holst; The Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy 2
1994 This Have I Done for My True Love Gustav Holst; Holst Singers, Stephen Layton 2
1994 St. Paul’s Suite / Brook Green Suite / Double Concerto / A Fugal Concerto / Lyric Movement / Two Songs Without Words Gustav Holst; City of London Sinfonia, Richard Hickox 1
1994 The Planets Gustav Holst; Georgian SIMI Festival Orchestra, Jahni Mardjani 1
1995 St. Paul's Suite / A Fugal Concerto / Brooks Green Suite / A Somerset Rhapsody Gustav Holst; English Chamber Orchestra, Yehudi Menuhin 1
1995 Holst: The Planets / Grainger: The Warriors Gustav Holst, Percy Grainger; Philharmonia Orchestra, John Eliot Gardiner 4

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