Gustav Holst: The Planets Suite: New Light on a Famous Work

2014 marks the centenary of the composition of Gustav Holst’s The Planets Suite: probably Britain’s most famous orchestral piece.

But few people know about its origins in Holst’s study of astrology rather than astronomy or Greek and Roman mythology.

This monograph has an introduction which briefly outlines his career and his interest in “alternative” ideas then current at the end of the late-Victorian and Edwardian eras. The next section outlines why Holst adopted a lifelong interest in astrology and how this led to the composition of The Planets. Mention is made of the people who were important to him in its composition and there is a detailed description of each movement.

The monograph then briefly speculates about why the subject of astrology has previously been dismissed before outlining what other important pieces Holst wrote at this time during the First World War years. There is a discussion of the first performance and rapturous reception The Planets received in 1920.

Octavo: pp.24: illus. bw 7: col.3 and cover; there are footnotes and a select bibliography.

ISBN 978-0-9928464-0-4

“This should be essential reading for any admirer of Holst’s wonderful suite”
Michael Short (author of Gustav Holst: The Man and His Music), in Holst Birthplace Newsletter, August 2014

“Concise, authoritative and companionable
Alan Gibbs, British Music Society Journal, Vol.36, 2014/1, p.70

“These publications are equally engrossing. The presentation of both is quite splendid. These publications deserve to be in the possession of all those who care about British music and wish to further their knowledge of a truly significant figure in world music.”
Robert Matthew-Walker, Musical Opinion (London), January – March 2016


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Letter [1918] in Holst Museum, Cheltenham. (Click on image for a closer look)

Letter [1918] in Holst Museum, Cheltenham