Gustav Holst

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Gustav Theodore Holst (born Gustavus Theodor von Holst, 21 September 1874 – 25 May 1934) was an English composer. He is most famous for his orchestral suite The Planets.[1]

Having studied at the Royal College of Music in London,[2] his early work was influenced by Grieg, Wagner,[3] Richard Strauss and fellow student Ralph Vaughan Williams,[4] and later, through Vaughan Williams, the music of Ravel.[2] The combined influence of Ravel, Hindu spiritualism and English folk tunes[2] enabled Holst to free himself of the influence of Wagner and Strauss and to forge his own style. Holst's music is well known for unconventional use of metre and haunting melodies.

Holst composed almost 200 works, including operas, ballets, choral hymns and songs (see Selected works below).

An enthusiastic educator, Holst became music master at St Paul's Girls' School in 1905 and director of music at Morley College in 1907, continuing in both posts until retirement.[2]

He was the brother of Hollywood actor Ernest Cossart and father of the composer and conductor Imogen Holst, who wrote a biography of him in 1938.[4]

He was originally named Gustavus Theodor von Holst, but he dropped the "von" from his name in response to anti-German sentiment in Britain during World War I, making it official by deed poll in 1918.[1][2][5][6]


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