Comprehensive Biography of Composer Gustav Holst, with Correspondence and Diary Excerpts Including His American Years

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Based upon and containing many of Holst’s own personal letters, diaries, and notebooks entries, this study provides an intimate portrait of this larger-than-life personality. Many of Holst’s innermost thoughts regarding musical composition, performance, and music education are disclosed here. In addition, there is a significant amount of information concerning Holst’s work ethics at all six of his places of employment. It also provides a view of the composer from this side of the Atlantic, shedding considerable light on Holst’s plans and activities regarding his three American visits that is not found in the other biographies. A significant number of chapters are devoted to Holst’s 1932 semester -long lectureship at Harvard University. The appendices include examples of Holst’s manuscripts, thumbnail sketches of persons associated with his career, and (unique to this text) a chronological listing of his compositions.


"This book is a most valuable contribution to our knowledge of Holst via an American standpoint and to our knowledge of the subtle interactions between a composer, his friends, musical colleagues, critics, and the public. . . . Mitchell’s is a thorough, detailed, and reliable study of Holst’s life in music as discovered principally in the countless letters the composer sent and received. . . . The details of Holst’s childhood in Cheltenham, and the ensuing years of musical study are painstaking and carefully explored. Here, Mitchell provides the vital initial setting for all that comes after Holst’s attitudes, preferences, friendships, stylistic bent, and ways of coping with life’s challenges. In addition, throughout the narration are fascinating tidbits of information, like the composer’s interest in astrology and casting of horoscopes, an interest that can all be seen as artistic preparation for the writing of The Planets. Yet, a more indispensable contribution of the author is the bringing of an American perspective to bear on Holst’s relationship to the United States . . . . a satisfying and informative read, recommended to all lovers of music." Nicholas Tawa

". . . an important and enjoyable book. Beyond being a handsome and insightful portrait of a famous composer, it is the story of the English musical world between 1890 and 1930. . . . comprehensive and substantial research allows the reader to discover the complete Holst, Holst the person, musician, composer and teacher. . . . indispensable to any future study of Holst in the decades before and after the beginning of the twentieth century." Frank L. Battisti

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Preface; Foreword
1. Cheltenham through Student Days at the Royal College of Music
2. The Professional Trombonist
3. Girls’ Schools and Folk Tunes
4. Morley College
5. 10, The Terrace, Barnes
6. More Suites and The Cloud Messenger
7. New Music Wing, Dirge, and The Planets
8. Thaxted and The Hymn of Jesus
9. Wartime Services with the YMCA
10. The Education of Composers
11. In the Wake of The Planets
12. Coping with Fame
13. An Invitation from America
14. First American Visit
15. Recordings, First Choral Symphony, At the Boar’s Head, Music for Amateurs
16. The Damrosch Commission
17. The Premieres of Egdon Heath
18. A Second American Invitation
19. Second American Visit
20. 1929-1931
21. The Bells
22. Harvard Beckons
23. The Star Conductor
24. New York
25. The Harvard Professor
26. Montreal and Return to New York
27. Boston and Washington DC
28. Recovery
29. Return to Ann Arbor
30. Farewell to America
31. Late 1932
32. Carlisle
33. Lyric Movement and Brook Green Suite
34. The Song of Solomon
35. The Final Months
Appendices: Chronological Listing of Gustav Holst’s Music
Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Broadcast Talk during the BBC Gustav Holst Memorial Concert
Sketches and Cartoons
Selected Programs
Bibliography; Index

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