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Gustav Holst (1874–1934): The Planets (Op. 32)


Gustav Holst was a British composer living and working in London 100 years ago. He was a very interesting man fascinated by space, astrology, alternative faiths, meditation and vegetarianism – in many ways he was completely ahead of his time. The Planets orchestral suite from 1918 describes seven planets in music but looks at their moods or characters rather than their scientific properties. Each one has a subtitle that further explains the character of the music.


Holst’s piece features an enormous orchestra with quadruple winds, 6 horns, large percussion section, celeste and organ, and despite Holst’s worries that it was too modern for the first audiences, it was an immediate hit and remains one of the most popular orchestral pieces of all time.