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Holst - The Planets

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by BassyBill, Mar 10, 2009.

  1. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    This always strikes me as an incredible musical achievement. The more you listen to it, the more you realise what an unbelievably complex work it is.

    Just listen to the last two minutes or so of "Saturn". How did anybody manage to score that and conduct it, let alone play it coherently? Great stuff.

    Your thoughts, please?
  2. Oric


    Feb 19, 2008
    Georgetown, Kentucky
    This was one of the first orchestral pieces I really got into. Most people name Jupiter and Mars as their favorite, but when you listen deeper, you really get the beauty of the others. My favorites are Neptune and Uranus, I love the raucous brass and timpani part at the beginning of Uranus. I have the BSO recording, it's really good.
  3. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    "Neptune" is one of the most atmospheric pieces of music I've ever heard. I agree that most people would go for Mars and Jupiter as their favourites, but I love the entire thing as a coherent whole.

    Jerry Goldsmith, who wrote the music for "Alien" and lots of other movies, said Holst had a big impact on his work. If you listen to Venus in the Planets suite and then watch that movie, you can really hear the influence.
  4. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    One of my all-time favorite works. "Mars" still gives me chills every time I listen to it. I have a recording by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Geoffrey Simon (LaserLight Digital 14 010).
  5. I whole heartedly agree. "Saturn" is my favorite movement of the whole piece, although "Mars, The Bringer of War" is a close second. It was said that when the orchestra that originally debuted the work had its rehearsals the cleaning women in the theater were dancing during the playing of "Saturn". I believe that Holst may have written more compositions, but "The Planets" was definitely his masterpiece.
    Incidently, Emerson, Lake & Powell did their own rendition of "Mars" on their self-titled CD. They did a great version of it.
    Great post.

  6. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
  7. I remember hearing The Planets when I was taking a music appreciation class in high school. It really stuck with me (along with Charles Ives stuff :D)) and I've loved it since.
  8. fishtx

    fishtx Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Genzler Amplification/Spector Basses/Mojo Hand FX
    I haven't listened to this in years...I need to get a digitally remasterd version of this to "re-ignite" myself as to how great this truly was...any suggestions on a digitally remastered version to buy?
  9. Trapezius


    Mar 1, 2009
    Oslo, Norway
    "The planets" is a masterpiece, and some of the best orchestral music ever composed, IMO. I really enjoy listening to it.
    I think all the scifi-composers are influenced by it. It kinda defines the sound of space.
  10. Throckmorten


    Aug 3, 2006
    Central NY
    I have an opportunity to hear this performed live for the first time in a couple weeks. ' can't wait.

    I've had several recordings over the years, one of the more interesting was Isao Tomita back in the 80s doing the whole thing on a bank of synths the size of a house. Upscale kitsch.
  11. rfclef


    Jan 19, 2007
    Woodburn, Oregon
    Holst (along with Vaughan Williams) has long been one of my favorite composers. His suites for Military band are two of the best pieces ever written for band, bar none. I have had the privilege of playing them both, and despite teaching in small schools with small bands, I think every band student should experience them at least once, so I try to play some or all of at least one of them every few years, and the kids hear them a lot.

    I love the Planets... I think my college band director's move to play them on the field at a halftime show was... risky (drunk frat boys don't wanna hear Holst)? But kinda fun.
  12. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    And sadly few others even come close in the band literature.

    It always seemed to me that "The Planets" were on a totally different level than the other works of Holst.

    BTW, if you like the last movement of the 2nd Suite in F for military band, check out the ending of the "St. Paul Suite" for orchestra. An interesting look into the compositional techniques of Holst and a clue to how he viewed the musical potential of Wind Band vs. Orchestra.
  13. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois
    My father gave me a Holst Planets record when I was 10 years old and I was hooked on it ever since. It is definitely my favorite piece of music to listen to, of any kind, and I still play it several times a month (one version or another) and never get tired of it. An amazing and awe inspiring piece of work.

    The electronic version by Isao Tomita that was mentioned above certainly is unusual but it's a good listen, IMO.
  14. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    I remember learning the Jupiter quote in Zappa's Call Any Vegetable a couple of decades ago. We had great fun pulling that out in the middle of Dead-ish jams back in the mid-80s.

    Your post prompted me to find:

  15. banre


    Dec 15, 2008
    Mobile, AL
    Agreed! In high school we played at least one movement from either first or second suite every year at the end of year concert.

    Never got to perform Hammersmith, but as a tuba player, that one was always on my list of what I requested from our band director. Too bad about 75% of the band couldn't have handled that piece!

    For Williams, played Toccata Marziale in college. Incredible piece of music!

    Those two composers defined modern military style band!
  16. crayzee


    Feb 12, 2009
    Mississauga, ON
    I remember playing Mars, Venus and Jupiter in band. Lots of fun to play on my tuba. It's a great work of art by a great composer.
  17. Oric


    Feb 19, 2008
    Georgetown, Kentucky
    Even though The Planets is great, I'm more partial to his concert band music. He was one of the first composers to really take advantage of the concert band instrumentation. Hammersmith is incredible. Every high school concert band plays the Suite in Eb, but we played Hammersmith in my high school, and some of the compositional techniques in there just blew my mind. (of course, the fact that it had a great tuba part had something to do with it)
  18. rfclef


    Jan 19, 2007
    Woodburn, Oregon
    Nice to see some tuba brethren popping up... I played the 2 military suites on euphonium, tuba, and trombone at various times.

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