Theodore Holst

Theodore Holst Holst- The Planets Suite Gustav Theodore Holst was born on the 21st of September 1874. His great-grandfather came from Sweden, which made his Father Swedish and his Mother was English. He studied at the Royal College of England, with the trombone as his main instrument. He hadnt started with the trombone in the beginning, but moved onto it after neuritis affected his first instrument, the piano. One of his close friends was the great British composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams. Holst gave up playing at the turn of the century and took charge of St. Pauls Girls School, writing music in his spare time.

He even wrote the St. Pauls Suite for Strings for the school orchestra. Later, he became interested in music and wrote a suite (group) of seven pieces based on each of the planets for an orchestra of over a hundred players. Each piece had the name of a planet and a subtitle too. Each movement displayed the characteristics assigned to the planet by Greek mythology.

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He died on the 24th May 1934. Mars- the bringer of war started with the bass oboe and six horns each making low sounds portraying war. The low notes made the overall sound seem menacing as well as threatening. Many chromatic notes made up the melody. It had a complicated time signature of 54.

The harmony was discordant. Strings played col legno (with wood) along with bass oboes, six timpani and two harps in the opening. There was lots of brass and percussion to sound war like. The rhythm was ostinato on three quavers, two crochets, two quavers and another crochet. In Venus- the bringer of peace a solo French horn starts and plays a calm four note melody.

This is then answered (antiphonal exchange) by the flutes and oboes in a six note melody the descends. Holst used crochets and minims as well as many rests to give a calm feeling. The harmony was concordant. The harp and glockenspiel gave the piece of music a magical feeling. This feeling was encouraged even more by the muted sound as the music was marked by Holst making it soft (p) and moderately soft (mp).

There was also a high woodwind melody. Music.


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