Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Songs of the Celestial Beings

The Planets orbit the Sun.

I know we've been celebrating a lot of music related birthdays recently, but I've got yet another one for you. Gustav Holst was born on this date in 1874. His most famous composition is the orchestral suite, The Planets.

This work has served as a source of inspiration for many 20th century orchestral composers, most notably John Williams and his score for the Star Wars movies. Although it was written without a direct programmatic element, the inherent sense of drama that the music conveys seems to tell a story, like a tone poem. This has made it a paradigm to which modern soundtrack composers turn when arranging an orchestral score.

Holst felt a great deal of ambivalence towards The Planets. He was of the impression that it overshadowed all of his other works. That's a valid complaint. However, I'd say it dominates his compositions because it is it is by far and away his strongest piece of music. Heck, it's one of the most powerful works of the standard Classical repertoire.

Mars (Photo by NASA, J. Bell, M. Wolff)

My favorite part of the work is Mars: the Bringer of War. It's a wonderfully dramatic and strong piece that captures the "warrior" vibe.

But Venus: the Bringer of Peace is a close second. ;-)

Venus (Photo by NASA)

Here's some music:


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