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The Life and Music of Gustav Holst

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 04:20 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 68 
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Gustav Holst, born in Cheltenham in September 1847, is still today considered to be one of the greatest music composers of all time. He was not very fond of music when he was younger, but he enjoyed the piano. He was sent to Cheltenham Grammar School and forced to take long music lessons, even though he had neuritis in his hands.

His first job was an organist and Choirmaster at the Choral Society, Bourbon on the Water. Impressed at his good ear for music, his father borrowed some money to send him to the Royal College of Music, which he had previously failed to enter.

As he got older, the neuritis in his hands got worse, and it was almost impossible for him to play the piano, so he took up the trombone. It allowed him to play in orchestras, and earn a decent income. Being hard up for money, he used to play his trombone on the pier for cash at Brighton during the summer holidays. During this period, Holst wrote his first opera, it was called The Revoke, based on a card game in Beau Brummel.

Later on, Holst conducted the Hammersmith Socialist Choir, and fell in love with his youngest blonde-haired, blue-eyed soprano, whose name was Isobel Harrison.

In 1989, Holst began to work on his Opera, Sita, based on the Hindu fable of Ramayana. He worked on it until 1906, but it was never performed in his lifetime.

Gustav married Isobel in 1901 and their first home was in Shepherds Bush. He was very upset when his father died, so he and Isobel went on a short holiday to Berlin. He returned to London with a higher confidence level, and decided to give up the trombone so that he could concentrate on his composing.

After many refusals of his works, Holst became rather unwell, so took him to Algeria for a holiday. The warm climate and bright colours of Algeria inspired Holst, so he decided to start working on a new piece called Beni Mora, but it was not a great success.

In 1912, his performance of The Cloud...


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