Gustav Holst


Born: 1874   Died: 1934   Country: England   Period: 20th Century
Known primarily for his popular orchestral composition, The Planets, Gustav Holst embraced a wide variety of musical models, from Arthur Sullivan, Edvard Grieg, and Wagner to the melodic simplicity of English folk music. In his maturity, he managed to merge these various influences into a rather sparse personal style that became increasingly transparent in his later years. Perhaps his greatest talent lay in the realm of choral music; his Hymn of Read more Jesus stands as one of the finest works in the genre from the early twentieth century.

Holst's first instruction came from his father, Adolph, a piano teacher, who also made him take lessons on the violin and trombone; the father believed that these studies might alleviate the youth's asthma.

By age 12, the young Holst was composing, even dabbling in orchestration; in 1888, he won a prize in an amateur competition for his vocal work, A Christmas Carol. Thereafter he sang in the All Saints' Church choir and played violin and trombone in its orchestra. In 1892, he traveled to London and heard a Covent Garden performance of Götterdämmerung, led by Mahler. The experience opened up new compositional vistas for the young composer.

Holst entered the Royal College of Music the following year where he met fellow student Ralph Vaughan Williams, who would remain a close lifelong friend. Shortly after his arrival in London, Holst found that the neuritis in his right arm, which had afflicted him in his early youth, had worsened and now caused him to abandon ideas of a career as a concert pianist. In 1898, Holst left the RCM to take a position in the Carl Rosa Opera Company as rehearsal pianist and coach. He completed his Cotswold Symphony in 1900, and its premiere in April 1902 was a success. On June 22, 1901, Holst married Emily Isobel Harrison, whom he had met in a choir he had directed a few years before.

In late 1903, Holst took on a teaching position at James Allen's Girls' School, in South London. The following year he acquired a second post, the directorship of music at St. Paul's Girls' School, which he would retain until his death. He added another teaching post at Morley College in 1907, bogging him down and leaving little time for composition. Still, the St. Paul's Suite, written during this period (1912-1913), is among his most often-performed works.

In 1914, Holst began work on what would become his most popular composition, The Planets. The war years were extremely productive, as the composer not only completed The Planets, but also wrote Hymn of Jesus. In spring 1918, Holst began educational work for the YMCA at its various facilities on European battlefields.

He returned to London at the end of June 1919 and took a prestigious post teaching theory and composition at the RCM in 1920. The composer's fame was not only growing domestically in the early 1920s but internationally as well, as works like the Hymn of Jesus were receiving regular and acclaimed performances. By 1924, Holst's health was clearly declining, and he thus lessened his workload.

Beginning in late December 1928, Holst made a series of trips abroad that included visits to France, Italy, Sicily, and the U.S. In Boston, a duodenal ulcer was diagnosed in 1932. On May 23, 1934, he underwent surgery for the ulcer, but died two days later. Read less
The Singing Apes - Sandstrom, Britten, Holst, Weill, Et Al
Release Date: 11/19/1996   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 733   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: The Perfect Fool

Browse 1-17 of 17 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Decca Sound - Mono Years 1944-1956
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002280602 Release Date: 04/07/2015   Number of Discs: 53
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Maurice Ravel,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Wilhelm Backhaus,  Clifford Curzon,  Alfredo Campoli,  Henry Datyner  ... 
    Conductor:  Ernest Ansermet,  Ataulfo Argenta,  Roger Desormičre,  Karl Münchinger  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra,  Paris Conservatoire Orchestra,  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris  ... 
    CD: $206.49
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  • 2.
    The Great Recordings / Malcolm Sargent [18-CD Set]
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 634121 Release Date: 04/08/2014   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Sir William Walton,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Gustav Holst  ... 
    Performer:  Richard Lewis,  John [baritone (50s)] Cameron,  James Milligan,  Duncan Robertson  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Malcolm Sargent,  André Previn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra,  Huddersfield Choral Society,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $69.99
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  • 3.
    Holst: The Planets; The Perfect Fool (Ballet Music)
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7076 Release Date: 08/14/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Holst
    Conductor:  William Boughton
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
    CD: $8.99
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  • 4.
    Label: Heritage   Catalog: 233 Release Date: 07/17/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Holst,  Arnold Bax
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
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  • 5.
    Holst: The Collector's Edition
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 40471 Release Date: 06/19/2012   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Gustav Holst
    Performer:  Jonathan Snowden,  David Theodore,  Ralph Downes,  Dame Janet Baker  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult,  André Previn,  Norman Del Mar,  Yehudi Menuhin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  Bournemouth Sinfonietta  ... 
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  • 6.
    Holst: Cotswolds Symphony, Walt Whitman Overture, A Hampshire Suite / Bostock
    Label: Musical Concepts   Catalog: 1170 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Holst
    Conductor:  Douglas Bostock
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 7.
    Music From The Machine Age
    Label: Onyx   Catalog: 4086 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Gustav Holst,  Maurice Ravel,  Sergei Prokofiev  ... 
    Conductor:  Sascha Goetzel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 8.
    British Composers - Vaughan Williams, Finzi, Holst
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 95433 Release Date: 05/03/2011   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Gerald Finzi,  Arnold Bax,  Gustav Holst
    Performer:  David Van Asch,  Nigel Perrin,  Robin Doveton,  John Eaton  ... 
    Conductor:  Nicholas Cleobury,  Sir David Willcocks,  Sir Adrian Boult,  Christopher Finzi  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  King's Singers,  Cambridge King's College Choir,  London Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 9.
    Within A Dream - A Celebration Of The Artistry Of Richard Hickox
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 10568 Release Date: 10/27/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Frank Bridge,  Benjamin Britten,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  James Gilchrist,  Pamela Helen Stephen,  Roderick Williams,  Bruce Martin  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Hickox
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales,  City of London Sinfonia,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $18.99
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  • 10.
    Holst: Ballet Music / Hickox, BBC NO of Wales
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 5069 Release Date: 01/27/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Holst
    Conductor:  Richard Hickox
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales,  Joyful Company of Singers
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  • 11.
    Holst: Perfect Fool, Egdon Heath, St Paul's Suite
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 49784 Release Date: 04/29/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Holst
    Performer:  Ian Partridge,  Ralph Downes
    Conductor:  Sir Malcolm Sargent,  André Previn,  Sir Charles Groves,  Imogen Holst  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus  ... 
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  • 12.
    Holst: The Planets / Leaper
    Label: Arte Nova   Catalog: 277850 Release Date: 08/09/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Holst
    Conductor:  Adrian Leaper
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Grand Canary Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 13.
    The British Music Collection - Holst: Savitri, Hymns, Etc
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 470191 Release Date: 03/09/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gustav Holst
    Performer:  Osian Ellis,  Kathryn Greenbank,  Julia Bogorad,  Susan Longfield  ... 
    Conductor:  Imogen Holst,  Christopher Hogwood,  Elgar Howarth,  Sir Adrian Boult
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Purcell Singers,  St. Paul Chamber Orchestra,  Grimethorpe Colliery Band  ... 
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  • 14.
    Holst: Music For Two Pianos /Len Vorster, Robert Chamberlain
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8554369 Release Date: 07/28/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Holst
    Performer:  Robert Chamberlain,  Len Vorster
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  • 15.
    Spirits Of Fire / Summit Brass
    Label: Summit Records   Catalog: 218 Release Date: 04/21/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anthony Plog,  Henri Lazarof,  Samuel Barber,  Pablo Casals  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Summit Brass
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  • 16.
    The Spirit of England II / William Boughton, et al
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 5450 Release Date: 10/03/1995   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Sir William Walton,  Lennox Berkeley,  Sir Edward Elgar,  Benjamin Britten  ... 
    Conductor:  William Boughton
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  English String Orchestra,  English Symphony Orchestra
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  • 17.
    A Tribute To Elgar, Delius & Holst / Black Dyke Mills Band
    Label: Chandos   Catalog: 4507 Release Date: 10/09/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Gustav Holst,  Frederick Delius
    Conductor:  Major Peter Parkes
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Black Dyke Mills Band
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Gustav Holst

Holst: The Planets, op.32 - 1. Mars, the Bringer of War
Holst: The Planets, op.32 - 2. Venus, the Bringer of Peace
Holst: The Planets, op.32 - 3. Mercury, the Winged Messenger
Holst: The Planets, op.32 - 4. Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity
Holst: The Planets, op.32 - 5. Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age
Holst: The Planets, op.32 - 6. Uranus, the Magician
Holst: The Planets, op.32 - 7. Neptune, the Mystic
I. Chaconne
II. Intermezzo
III. March
1. March
2. Song without Words
3. Song of the Blacksmith
4. Fantasia on the Dargason