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
1996 The Morning of the Year / The Golden Goose / King Estmere Gustav Holst; Guildford Choral Society, The Philharmonia, Hilary Davan Wetton 1
1996 Choral Music Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams; The Finzi Singers, Paul Spicer 1
1996 BBC Music, Volume 5, Number 1: The Planets Gustav Holst; BBC Philharmonic, Yan Pascal Tortelier 1
1996 Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius / Holst: The Hymn of Jesus / Delius: Sea Drift Elgar, Holst, Delius; Benjamin Britten, Yvonne Minton, Peter Pears, John Shirley-Quirk, London Symphony Chorus, Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, London Symphony Orchestra 1
1996 Orchestral Music Gustav Holst; London Festival Orchestra, Ross Pople 2
1996 The Planets Gustav Holst; London Festival Orchestra, Robert Ashley 1
1997 Holst: The Planets / Varèse: Arcana Gustav Holst, Edgard Varèse; Philharmonia Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin 1
1998 The Planets Gustav Holst; Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Yoel Levi 1
1998 Beni Mora / Somerset Rhapsody / Hammersmith / Egdon Heath / Invocation for Cello and Orchestra Gustav Holst; Royal Scottish National Orchestra, David Lloyd-Jones 1
1998 Music for Two Pianos Gustav Holst; Len Vorster, Robert Chamberlain 1
1998 The Planets Gustav Holst; London Symphony Orchestra, André Previn 2
1998 The Planets / St. Paul's Suite Gustav Holst; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Vernon Handley, The Ambrosian Singers, John McCarthy 3
1999 British Wind Band Classics Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams; Royal Northern College of Music Wind Orchestra, Timothy Reynish 1
1999 The Wandering Scholar / Suite de Ballet / A Song of the Night Gustav Holst; Northern Sinfonia, Richard Hickox 1
2001 Holst: The Planets / Vaughan Williams: Fantasias Holst, Vaughan Williams; Vienna Academy Chamber Choir, Vienna State Opera Orchestra, Adrian Boult 1
2001 English String Miniatures, Volume 3 Carlo Martelli, Gerald Finzi, Gustav Holst, William Blezard, Michael Hurd, Haydn Wood, Bruce Montgomery; Royal Ballet Sinfonia, David Lloyd-Jones 1
2001 The Planets Holst; London Symphony Orchestra, André Previn 1
2001 Gustav Holst: The Planets / Colin Matthews: Pluto Gustav Holst, Colin Matthews; Hallé Orchestra, Mark Elder 1
2001 I Pianeti Gustav Holst; Leonard Bernstein 1
2002 The Planets / Egdon Heath Gustav Holst; BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sir Andrew Davis 1
2002 The Planets: including Colin Matthews: Pluto / The Mystic Trumpeter Gustav Holst; Royal Scottish National Orchestra, David Lloyd-Jones 2
2002 The Planets Gustav Holst; Bruckner Orchester Linz, Dennis Russell Davies 1
2002 English String Miniatures, Volume 4 Peter Hope, Frank Bridge, Adam Carse, Ernest Tomlinson, Gustav Holst, Frederick Delius, Paul Lewis; Northern Sinfonia, David Lloyd-Jones 1
2003 The English Song Series, Volume 6: Vedic Hymns / Four Songs for Voice and Violin / Humbert Wolfe Songs Gustav Holst; Susan Gritton, Philip Langridge, Christopher Maltman, Louisa Fuller, Steuart Bedford 1
2003 Britten: Sinfonia da Requiem / Four Sea Interludes & Passacaglia / Holst: Egdon Heath / The Perfect Fool Benjamin Britten, Gustav Holst; London Symphony Orchestra, André Previn 1
2005 BBC Music, Volume 13, Number 8: Partsongs Sir Edward Elgar, Frederick Delius, Gustav Holst 1
2005 The Planets Holst; NHK Symphony Orchestra, Yutaka Sado 1
2005 Holst: The Planets; Somerset Rhapsody / Matthews: Pluto Holst, Matthews; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Owain Arwel Hughes 1
2006 The Planets Holst; Simon Rattle, Berliner Philharmoniker 2
2006 English String Miniatures, Volume 6 Gustav Holst, Henry Purcell, Paul Lewis, Malcolm Lipkin; Royal Ballet Sinfonia, Gavin Sutherland 1
2008 Hymn to Dionysus / Choral Hymns / Two Eastern Pictures Gustav Holst; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal College of Music Chamber Choir, Sir David Willcocks 1
2008 The Planets, Op. 32 - Montreal Symphony Orchestra / Charles Dutoit Gustav Holst 1
2009 Orchestral Works, Volume 1: Ballet from "The Perfect Fool" / The Lure / The Golden Goose / The Morning of the Year Gustav Holst; Joyful Company of Singers, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Richard Hickox 1
2009 Holst: The Planets / Britten: The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra Gustav Holst, Benjamin Britten; Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Järvi 1
2011 Orchestral Works, Volume 2: The Planets / Beni Mora / Japanese Suite Holst; Manchester Chamber Choir, BBC Philharmonic, Sir Andrew Davis 1
2011 The Planets, Op. 32 Gustav Holst; Hansjörg Albrecht 1
2011 The Planets Gustav Holst; York2 1
2012 Cotswolds Symphony / Walt Whitman Overture / Indra / Japanese Suite / A Winter Idyll Holst; Ulster Orchestra, JoAnn Falletta 1
2013 Works for Chorus and Orchestra Britten, Finzi, Holst; City of London Sinfonia, The Britten Singers, Richard Hickox, John Mark Ainsley, Stephen Varcoe 1
2013 BBC Music, Volume 21, Number 10: Holst: The Planets / Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1 Gustav Holst, Ludwig van Beethoven 1
2013 Orchestral Works, Volume 3: First Choral Symphony / The Mystic Trumpeter Gustav Holst; Susan Gritton, BBC Symphony Chorus, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sir Andrew Davis 1
Boult’s Planets Holst, Walton, Vaughan Williams; BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult 1
Enigma Variations Op. 36 & The Planets Op. 32 Elgar / Holst 1
Holst: Suite no. 1 in E-flat / Suite no. 2 in F / Handel: Music for the Royal Fireworks / Bach: Fantasia in G Holst, Handel, Bach; The Cleveland Symphonic Winds, Frederick Fennell 1
Second Suite in F for Military Band Gustav Holst 1
The Planets Gustav Holst; Los Angeles Philharmonic, Zubin Mehta 1
The Planets Gustav Holst; The European Philharmonic Orchestra, Hymisher Greenburg 1
The Planets Gustav Holst; London Philharmonic Orchestra, Bernard Haitink 1
The Planets / St. Paul's Suite / The Perfect Fool Holst; Simon Rattle, Yehudi Menuhin 1
The Planets, op. 32 Gustav Holst; Wiener Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan 1

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