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Gustav Holst

Gustav Holst (1874–1934) was an English composer, arranger and teacher, best known for his orchestral suite The Planets. He had originally hoped to become a pianist, but was prevented by neuritis in his right arm. Unable to support himself as a composer, he played the trombone professionally and later became a teacher. He was musical director at Morley College from 1907 until 1924, and pioneered music education for women at St Paul's Girls' School, where he taught from 1905 until his death. He also founded a series of annual Whitsun music festivals, which ran from 1916 for the remainder of his life. As a composer, it was not until the international success of The Planets in the years immediately after the First World War that he became a well-known figure. In his later years his style of composition struck many as too austere, and his brief popularity declined. Nevertheless, he was a significant influence on a number of younger English composers, including Michael Tippett and Benjamin Britten. Apart from The Planets and a handful of other works, his music was generally neglected until the 1980s, since when recordings of much of his output have been available. (Full article...)

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