Holst’s “The Planets,” born September 29, 1918

Posted on: October 1, 2018

“100 years ago, a symphonic blockbuster was born in London,” writes Tom Huizenga on Saturday (9/28) at National Public Radio. Gustav Holst’s The Planets, a seven-movement suite “depicting planets from our solar system, has been sampled … by the likes of Frank Zappa, John Williams, Hans Zimmer and any number of prog-rock and metal bands…. Holst … was no astronomer. He was more of an astrologer…. He gave each of [the planets] nicknames … like ‘Mars: The Bringer of War,’ ” of which BBC Symphony Orchestra Chief Conductor Sakari Oramo says, “ ‘Mars is a war machine. You could refer to Mars as the forefather of music for films describing interstellar warfare.’ ” About “Neptune: The Mystic,” astronomer Heidi Hammel says, “ ‘Being an astronomer who has studied this planet, this movement is one that is actually aligned with my mental interpretation of the planet.’ Neptune is so far from the sun, she says, that the sun just looks like a moderately bright star…. Holst’s true masterstroke is …an offstage wordless female choir halfway through the movement. ‘They are there, but they’re not there,’ Hammel says…. Oramo says it’s ethereal, ‘radiating a strange, foreign light that is not light known to us.’ ”

Posted October 1, 2018