Skip to Content

What Is The Planets by Gustav Holst?

The first performance of The Planets by Gustav Holst was a small affair attended by 250 associates, including the conductor Sir Henry Wood and many of the most prominent London musicians. The composer regarded this first performance as a public premiere and inscribed a copy of the score with the words ‘thanks to Adrian Boult.’ He was so pleased with the performance that he decided to make it available on the internet, in the hopes of making it as widely accessible as possible.

Neptune: The Mystic

The title of the final movement of The Planets, op. 32, is a nod to Holst’s novel of the same name. This work, like the others of this series, has no melody but instead features high-pitched violins and a female chorus singing a wordless song. During this final movement, the orchestra gradually fades away from the audience and the words begin to fade.

The Planets is a seven-movement orchestral suite written by Gustav Holst. It was written between 1914 and 1916 and was first performed on 29 September 1918 in Queen’s Hall in London. Holst had never thought the piece would be worth much, but the audience was enthusiastic. The first movement is titled Neptune. Other movements include Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Saturn.

The Mystic planets by Gustav Holst: This work reflects the artist’s fascination with astrology, which he first learned during a holiday to Majorca in the spring of 1913. Holst learned about astrology from his friend, Clifford Bax, and studied Alan Leo’s book, “What is a horoscope?” to discover which planets have specific characteristics. Holst developed an individual musical language for each planet in his compositions, excluding Earth and Pluto. He also gave the seven movements subtitles: “Morning, Evening, Night, and Day.”

Holst began the Planets suite in May 1914, before the World War I broke out. His first movement, Mars, was written in 1914, and has become a critique of war and the destructiveness of war. Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn followed shortly afterward. Neptune and Mercury were completed in 1916. It took two years to complete the suite. Holst’s final planet, Neptune, is arguably the most famous of the orchestral planets.

The Mystic planets: The Mystic Planets is a work that celebrates the heavenly bodies and their relationship to our own world. Holst’s music is filled with contrasting ideas and emotions, and the planets themselves have a profound influence on the human mind. Its music expresses these influences through different musical modes and time signatures.

Mars

The first movement of the orchestral suite Planets, Mars by Gustav Holst was composed in May 1914. The piece has become a resoundingly popular musical reference as a presentiment of World War I, and Holst titled it “The Bringer of War.” This piece captures the raw energy of youth, the misuse of the will, the desire for revolutionary action, and the forces of change. As well as being a favorite of film composers, the piece has also inspired the music of many film composers.

The concept of this work is not based on Roman deities, but rather on the influence of the planets on the human psyche. Nevertheless, this piece has a distinctly astrological tone, and it was Holst’s first foray into the sphere of astrology. This piece was so popular that Holst pledged to never write another piece like it again, and to never consider astrology to be a source of inspiration.

The music of Mars contains three basic patterns. The first is an irregular 5 /4 time signature, which serves as a solid foundation for the piece. In the middle section, the melodic material begins in tenor tuba, and in measures 143-162 it shifts to a 5/2 time signature. At the end of the movement, the work moves back to the 5/4 meter. This is another technique Holst uses to express his personality.

Despite its title, The Planets are a remarkable orchestral suite, illustrating all seven of the planets and their astrological characteristics. For example, Mars brings masculinity to the fore and paints an intense picture of war. Venus, on the other hand, expresses femininity and creates a peaceful place for the listener. Mercury, meanwhile, adds youthfulness and vigor to the mix. Jupiter’s role is benevolent, with a triumphant zeal and majesty. Finally, Saturn brings old age, melancholy, and awe.

The Mars movement of the Fifth Symphony is written in 5/4 time, and is an apt choice for a piece of chamber music. It is composed of alternating dissonant chords and is based on the pieces of Schoenberg. The fifth movement is a highly evocative work, and is one of the most powerful classical pieces. It is described as an “extraordinary piece of musical realism.”

Mercury

The third movement of The Planets Suite, Mercury, by Gustav Holst, is called “The Winged Messenger”. The piece was named after the god Mercury, the winged messenger, who carried messages from god to god. Holst created the music for Mercury as fast and unpredictable as possible, jumping between instruments in the orchestra. The players need to be particularly careful, as one wrong step can ruin the entire sequence.

While Mercury was the most popular planet in the solar system, the suite celebrates planetary movements and rhythms that play in opposition or conjunction. Instruments used in this piece include flutes, harps, and guckenspiels, and a percussion instrument called the celeste. The tempos of each movement are insanely fast (6/8) and have a radically odd key signature.

The planets suite, composed by Holst, was first conceived in the summer of 1914, before World War I began. The first movement, Mars, is often interpreted as a critique of the war. Venus was written a year later, followed by Jupiter and Saturn. The final planet, Mercury, was finished in 1916. Holst was a teacher at St. Paul’s Girls’ School in Hammersmith, where he enlisted the help of his students to write out the orchestra score.

The orchestral instrumentation is also varied, with a piccolo, two flutes, bass flute, and English horn. The orchestra also features a bassoon and three clarinets in A and B flat, four bassoons, a timpani, and two tuned percussions. This orchestral work is a work of genius, and one that will stand the test of time.

While it’s hard to find a single piece that doesn’t feature some sort of unintentional quirk, there are many pieces worth hearing. The Mars piece in particular evokes the futility of war. The Venus piece evokes stagnant peace. The Jupiter piece evokes unjolly unamusement. The pieces on Mercury and Saturn are less aggressive, but both pieces are compelling.

Uranus

In this music video for Uranus by Gustav Holst, the composer unites the extrovert aspects of the tarot card magician with the eccentricities of Uranus. Uranus is the planet of invention, innovation, and magic; the magician manipulates unseen elemental forces, and the composer conjures sounds from nothing. Both are in their element, and Holst clearly feels in his element as he weaves the two genres together. In this work, he imparts great impulse and power, and the action is sudden and original.

The opening of Uranus by Holst begins with four brassy notes, then transitions to heavy timpani blows and a boisterous gallop. The full orchestra creates a sense of power and strength, as the orchestra represents the Greek god of the sky. This work is not for the faint of heart, and Holst also scores the concerto for a piano duet. However, some critics feel that an organ could not accurately portray the mysterious planet of Uranus.

While critics hailed the composition as innovative, Holst’s music quickly gained popularity, and was recorded by more than 80 conductors. The orchestration is largely based on a large orchestra and is not suited for the home theater. The music is often a complex combination of rhythm and melody, and this piece is no exception. In the first movement, trumpets, trombones, and timpanis announce the arrival of the movement. A short four-note motif is repeated throughout the movement, and is used as a cadence.

The work’s concept is not based on Roman deities, but on the influence of planets on the psyche. Despite the use of astrology, Holst was initially skeptical of the premise of astrology, which he became interested in through his friend Clifford Bax. The final movement, a choral piece, speaks of disembodiment.

The planet Mars is associated with war and a violent atmosphere. Its musical theme is a brutally rhythmic figure, chromatic steps, and a tenor tuba tattoo, answered by the trumpets. It’s a mechanised, inhuman work, and an apt metaphor for the planet of war. Its mechanised horror reflects the apocalyptic nature of humankind.