The Planets

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The Planets, Op. 32, is a seven-movement orchestral suite by the British composer Gustav Holst, written between 1914 and 1916. Each movement of the suite is named after a planet of the Solar System and its corresponding astrological character as defined by Holst. With the exception of Earth, which is not observed in astrological practice, all the planets are represented.

From its premiere to the present day, the suite has been enduringly popular, influential, widely performed and the subject of numerous recordings. However, it had a protracted birth. There were four performances between September 1918 and October 1920, but they were all either private (the very first performance, in London) or incomplete (two others in London and one in Birmingham). The premiere was at the Queen's Hall on 29 September 1918, conducted by Holst's friend Adrian Boult to an invited audience of about 250 people. The first complete public performance was given in London on 15 November 1920, with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Albert Coates.

Contents

Background

The concept of the work is astrological[1] rather than astronomical (which is why Earth is not included): each movement is intended to convey ideas and emotions associated with the influence of the planets on the psyche, not the Roman deities. The idea of the work was suggested to Holst by Clifford Bax, who introduced him to astrology when the two were part of a small group of English artists holidaying in Majorca in the spring of 1913; Holst became quite a devotee of the subject, and liked to cast his friends' horoscopes for fun.[1][2] Holst also used Alan Leo's[1] book What is a Horoscope? as a springboard for his own ideas, as well as for the subtitles (i.e., "The Bringer of...") for the movements.

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