• Composer of the Week:   Gustav Holst

    Holst Gustav Holst was an English composer who wrote mostly for orchestra and concert bands.   Born in 1874, he is considered a modern period composer.   As a boy, he attended the Cheltenham Grammar School for Boys, where he wrote pieces for organ, piano and orchestra (“grammar school" at the time included grades K-12).   He then went on to the Royal College of Music.   After getting an illness that limited the use of his hands, he gave up piano for Trombone, which became his main instrument.   His last name was originally “von Holst,” but he dropped the “von” when anti-German feelings came about during World War I. 


    Holst wrote symphonies, band pieces, piano pieces, songs and more.  His most famous work is an orchestral suite named The Planets.   In it, each planet represents a different mood (“Jupiter” and “Mars” are best known).  It has been performed all over the world and been adapted for bands, solo instruments and even drum and bugle corps.  He also wrote pieces that are now standards for concert band, including his First and Second Suites for Military Band, as well as Mooreside Suite.   These pieces are performed by military bands, but also school and community bands.  

    While he was mainly a composer, he also performed at churches, conducted orchestras and choirs, and even taught music at an all-girls school, as well as the the Royal College of Music.   He married in 1897, and had one child who ended up writing a biography about him.  He had several health problems throughout his life, including lung and stomach problems and poor nutrition.  He died in 1934 after complications from surgery.   His music continues to inspire other composers to this day.  



     Map of Cheltenham, England 

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