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Gustav Holst


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Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, UK (1874 – 1934)

Gustav Holst (born September 21, 1874 Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, UK - died May 25, 1934) was an English composer and a music teacher for over 20 years. Holst is most famous for his orchestral suite The Planets. Having studied at the Royal College of Music in London, his early work was influenced by Ravel, Grieg, Richard Strauss, and Ralph Vaughan Williams, but most of his music is highly original, with influences from Hindu spiritualism and English folk tunes. Holst’s music is well known for unconventional use of metre and haunting melodies.

Gustav Holst wrote almost 200 catalogued compositions, including orchestral suites, operas, ballets, concertos, choral hymns, and songs. (See: selected works, below).

Holst became music master at St Paul’s Girls’ School in 1905 and also director of music at Morley College in 1907, continuing in both posts until retirement (as detailed below).

Holst died on May 25, 1934, after stomach surgery, at age 59. He was the brother of Hollywood actor Ernest Cossart, and father of the composer and conductor Imogen Holst, who wrote a biography of her father in 1938.


He was originally named Gustavus Theodor von Holst but he dropped the von from his name in response to anti-German sentiment in Britain during World War I, making it official by deed poll in 1918.

Early life

He was born in 1874 in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England to a family of Swedish extraction (by way of Latvia and Russia), and was educated at Cheltenham Grammar School for Boys.


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