30 January 2012

Gustav Holst

Gustav Holst (1874-1934) was my second cousin three times removed. He is from the musical branch of my family - Benigna Weiss née von Holst being his great aunt. Gustav Holst, born Gustavus Theodore von Holst, was a British composer, most well known for his work The Planets, the most famous part of it being Jupiter, with the well known "hymn" I Vow to Thee My Country set to the music of Jupiter.

Last year a documentary on Gustav Holst was produced: Holst - In the Bleak Midwinter, by Tony Palmer. I recently received a copy on DVD from my sixth cousin once removed, Harro Lange, a fellow Holst/von Holst-family researcher. The documentary is brilliant. I learnt so much about Holst, and have a new appreciation for his music. Commentary on his life is interspersed with interviews with people who knew him, including his daughter Imogen Holst, and also with performances of his music. You get a very good idea of the cross-section of music that he composed throughout his life, connected with his own experiences and world-view. I also think the Morris Dancing portrayed in the documentary was quite hilarious. I think the British have a different view of manliness than Aussie men!

I recommend Holst - In the Bleak Midwinter to you, if you have any interest in Holst's music, or British composers in general.

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