Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Gustav Holst (1874-1934)
Gustav Holst
Herbert Von Karajan, conductor
The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Mars, the Bringer of War, 00:26
- Venus, the Bringer of Peace, 
- Mercury, the Winged Messenger, 
- Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity, 
- Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age, 
- Uranus, the Magician, 
- Neptune, the Mystic, 

Whenever I think of the wonder of celestial spheres revolving independently-yet interdependently in the apparent blackness of Space, the one piece of music I want most to hear is The Planets by Gustav Holst . Try it. Our minuscule-but-essential place in the Cosmos will soon become more apparent. A splendid evocation of Awe and Wonder if ever there was one. It never fails to give me goose bumps, make my hair stand on end, while it bolsters my faith in almighty  God, maker of all things great and small


  1. Beautiful!

    Some years ago, I attended a concert of this piece narrated by Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy and accompanied by images from NASA. The concert was presented at night at Wolf Trap.

    What a wonderful experience!

    The night was clear, and the stars shone down on us; we could see the stars (and the moon) from our seats in the concert pavilion.

  2. My introduction to Holst's 'Planets was a bit through the backdoor; via his Anglican hymn 'To Thee I Vow My Country' based on the melody from 'Jupiter'. What would old
    Gustav have thought of these
    young Canadian girls going at it acapella?
    In the hymn genre, we note Holst
    was also responsible for 'Christmas Day' and 'In the Bleak Midwinter'.

  3. Yes, it is a wonderful work, AOW, and to hear it under such circumstances could only add to its beauty.

    True artists seem always to have anticipated the discoveries of Science by mysterious force we call intuition. The artist has a "VISION," -- a sudden flash of INSIGHT -- then it takes Science decades upon decades of painstaking research and trial and error experimentation to "prove" in many cases that the artist had it right.

    Of course, I am one who believes that ALL we know (or like to THINK we know) began as a "flash of Insight" in the mind of an unusually curious, imaginative, highly perceptive human being who had faith in himself and courage born of his convictions.

    That is certainly how all the great music came into being.

    From where does this intuition spring? I say it comes from God, but then you'd have to ask me what i mean when I talk of God to understand what I'm saying. He is NOT the scowling, glowering, bilious Authoritarian Grandfather in the Sky hurling thunderbolts willy nilly and bringing endless grief to "Sinners" and "The Heathen." He is, instead, the source of Light, Life, Truth, Beauty, Intelligence, Good Humor, Wisdom, Understanding, and LOVE.

  4. Hi, BB, nice to see you. It's been a while.

    I'm sure the gravely serious Mr. Holst would find those young women quite acceptable, and might even feel flattered. They sing well, although they demonstrate no real understanding of the words they sing.

    It's a magnificent hymn, and sounds best when sung by a cathedral choir and full congregation in an ancient, vaulted stone edifice.

    The modern world, very sadly, seems to have lost most of the appreciation for Dignity, Grandeur, Gravity and Majesty enjoyed in earlier times. That, of course, is because we've been virtually hypnotized by Mass Communication into thinking primarily of our itty bitty selves and how to find instant gratification for our "instinctive" desires.

    In other words we've been all-but squeezed dry of ALTRUISM and NOBILITY.

  5. And ASPIRATION to GREATNESS, I should have added.

  6. An exceptional piece of music, no doubt about it. But is it missing an element of chaos that might better "complete" the whole?

    Just asking.

  7. Well, Thersites, only the Cosmos, itself, has "everything."

    I find the 800+ years of vocal, choral, symphonic, keyboard and chamber music to be an inexhaustible treasure -- something to which even the most avid listener could never find the end -- and which only grows more appealing, more intriguing and more revealing with the passage if time. The deeper one exploxers, the deeper one wants to go, and no "bottom" seems evident.

  8. The Independent BloggerApril 15, 2014 at 1:51 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  10. Ah, the nonsense you'll pick up from non-kosher information sources. Is Ms. pShaw a "certified" member of the PC Police, or just the "Looney Left"?

    1. Looney Left for sure.

  11. Hildergarde HammhockerApril 15, 2014 at 2:57 PM

    I'm not in the habit of name-calling on these boards, but Shaw, you're kind of an idiot and totally dishonest if you allowed that to be posted on your board.

    And YOU call others names for doing exactly that!.

  12. Thank you Inspector AIPac

    And I approve that message.

  13. My Dear Mr. Free Thinke, I am writing this not to wish you a resounding success in your effort against the left.
    Only the strong-willed ideologues who are passionate about saving this country can help at this time. The "ugly fact" we must face is that the Looney left are more out-spoken and more nervy and better at lying than any other group. The emergence of the Tea Party movement has dramatically shown this country the unhappiness of voters with the direction the nation has taken since Obama was elected in 2008. At the heart of their displeasure are the dreadful state of the economy and the growing fear of a Big Government that extends more and more control over all aspects of their lives.
    Good luck in your fight to save this Nation. And you have clearly outlined who the threatening, treacherous, and savage, people are in this fight.
    And Thank You for that.

  14. The younger generation is "ideological" without realizing it, their heads filled with everything from manmade global warming to kumbaya. They have experienced little sacrifice, let alone suffering in their lives. It´s tough to convince a 23 year old happy to be living free with mom and dad holding an unmarketable masters degree and $25k student loan debt that "conservatism" is his escape. Liberals will at least offer him a world of free windings and hot chocolate to cry into

  15. This orchestral piece is wonderful, FT. It's good of you to share your understanding of all these great things. Most of us are hardly aware of them, because the mainstream culture does its best to ignore and even suppress knowledge that people are meant to be more than just a bunch of mindless consumers who can be manipulated at will.

    I too wonder at the extraordinary things human imagination and intuition are capable of producing, and I share your idea that the source of all of this must be God. If anyone thinks he has a better explanation, I'd listen to it, but I know we did not create ourselves, and that the the world and the solar system and all beyond are not something we dreamed up just to amuse ourselves. Keep thinking and keep imagining, FT.

    Helen Highwater

  16. Speaking of musical compositions having "everything"... ;)

  17. I call it "twerkin' to the classics!"

  18. Always a favorite.

    I've had this one on the iPod for some time.

  19. I'm happy you enjoy it, Ducky. Despite it's striking dissonances, because its so notably accessible (i.e. people naturally tend to love it ;-) I'd have to categorize it as "post-Romantic" rather than "modern" music. Designations of that sort are unimportant, but one must use some sort of terms of reference, I suppose.

    Would you agree that Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity is the most satisfying and fully developed of the suite?

  20. I think the strength of the work lies in its variety, FT.

    That said, I enjoy the way it ends with the Neptune. A chance to relax and contemplate.

  21. Yes, Ducky. A quiet, enigmatic, rather chilly ending is unusual, but can be wonderful as proven here. What I meant by focusing in Jupiter, however, is the masterful way it develops juxtaposing themes lively, merry, youthful scampering with the majestic glory of the "hymn-like" section BB of Idaho pointed out. It works brilliantly, but it's hard to say just why that should be so.

    think the whole work manages to be strikingly original without noticeably striving for effect -- the very definition of an authentic masterpiece.

    I wish Holst had been more prolific, but all you need is ONE really great piece to qualify. I've always believed he possessed a strong mystical streak. He, Parry, and Vaughan Williams did rather a lot to shape the character of twentieth-century liturgical music The Church of England without showing the slightest disrespect or disregard for what came before them. Another laudable achievement, indeed. Nine of these men was interested in shocking, irritating, discomforting anyone or calling particular attention to himself. I admire their, apparent, lack of Vanity.

    Parry, of course, belonged more to the Victorian Era in spirit than the other two, but his name should live forever, if only for the stirring, deeply touching music he created for Blake's Jerusalem.

    English music from Purcell, Byrd, Bull, Gibbons, Taverner, Boyce, Maurice Greene, to Noel Coward has much to recommend it, yet it has been given short shrift in most American and European conservatories. It's a bizarre sort of prejudice that wants to think of the British as relatively insignificant in this area.

    I despise Andrew lloyd Webber, however, -- a gifted man who prostituted himself for geld. Both The Phantom and Cats are grotesque, frankly hideous works filled with outrageous caterwauling vulgarity. I've never been able to get myself to sit through wither one, and believe me, I've tried.

    I also look at the ingenious contributions of John Rutter with a weather eye. I dislike them far less, but he has written a lot of borderline-vulgar, poppish stuff in dubious taste for the Anglican Church.

    The wide popular acceptance, even adulation ,enjoyed by Webber and by Rutter to a lesser extent, offer yet more evidence of the depressing decline in modern pop culture.



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