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Gustav Holst


About this Artist

Born: 1874, Cheltenham, U.K.
Died: 1934, London, U.K.

"Never compose anything unless the not composing of it becomes a positive nuisance to you."

Gustav Holst, most known for The Planets, composed a large number of works and his music combined a range of in uences, including spiritual aspects of Hinduism, English folk tunes, and classical composers Edvard Grieg, Richard Wagner, and his friend Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Holst was born in England into a very musical family. His father was a pianist and his mother was a singer. His father taught him piano at an early age, but a nerve disease cut short his career as a pianist. He went on to study composition at the Royal College of Music in London. Unable to support himself by his compositions, he played the trombone professionally and later became a teacher, working in London at St. Paul’s Girls’ School and at Morley College. He did most of his composing in his spare time.

Throughout his life, Holst continued to compose orchestral music, wind ensemble music, operas, chamber music, and vocal music of many different styles, and he had a great interest in various kinds of literature, poetry, and astrology.

Fun Facts:

  • English-born composer of German and Swedish ancestry. His surname was originally “von Holst.”

  • Learned to play the piano, organ, violin, and trombone. He began lessons on trombone “as a cure for asthma”!

  • Studied composition at the Royal College of Music in London.

  • Taught at the St. Paul’s Girls’ School for the last 30 years of his life.