ALL HARPS lower intermediate – This arrangement has a sparse LH, allowing one to concentrate on the beautiful harmonies of the RH.




This arrangement has a sparse LH, allowing one to concentrate on the beautiful harmonies of the RH.

Gustav Holst, (1874-1934) born in Cheltenham, England, is probably best known for his Planets Suite .

As a child, he loved the piano and practiced it for hours, but did not like the violin, the instrument his father chose for him. He had neuritis in his hands, which made practicing a pain (literally.)

His first job was in 1893 as organist in a small village. An aspiring composer, this experience helped him understand the inner workings of vocal music.

Gustav’s grandfather (Gustavus) was a harpist! His father (Adolph) was an organist and choir director. His mother, Clara, was a singer. She died when Gustav was only 8. His stepmother, Mary Thorley Stone, was a pianist.

Gustav and his wife, Emily Isobel Harrison, had one child, Imogen, who was a composer. She was also assistant to Benjamin Britten and became head of the the annual Aldeburgh Festival. You can read more about Imogen here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imogen_Holst . Gustav had a younger brother, Emil, who was an actor. Emil’s stage name was Ernest Cossart. Gustav Holst’s name at birth was Gustavus Theodore von Holst. He dropped the “von” in 1918.

If you’re further interested in Imogen Holst, there is a book called Imogen Holst, A Life in Music from Boydell and Brewer publishers.

Gustav Holst died at the young age of 59 from complications due to stomach cancer surgery. Here’s an excellent web site to learn more about Mr. Holst: http://www.gustavholst.info/

You can even follow Gustav Holst on Twitter!

Jupiter, from The Planets, is a Holst piece that is very popular for the harp. Its beautiful melody was brought to our attention first by Kim Robertson. It is also a tune found in many hymn books, Catholic and Protestant.

True for many hymns, the tune is named after a town. The village of Thaxted was established in 1205, in open countryside in the district of Essex, England. The hymn (poem) also known as “Oh God Beyond All Praising” was written by Cecil Spring-Rice. More information can be found at http://www.hymnary.org/text/i_vow_to_thee_my_country. It is also known as “I Vow to Thee My Country”.

[Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst are often thought of as the great modern English composers of hymns. Their music is majestic. They are sometimes confused with each other – I even found a Holst website with a picture of Vaughan Williams incorrectly inserted above Holst’s name.]

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