TALK | There's More to Holst Than The Planets (with Chris Cope, Chairman of the Holst Society)
Chapel Arts

TALK | There's More to Holst Than The Planets (with Chris Cope, Chairman of the Holst Society)

This Event Takes Place @ Chapel Arts, Cheltenham (Chapel Arts, Knapp Road (Near St. James Square), Cheltenham. GL50 3QQ)

Gustav Holst lived just short of 60 years (1874-1934). He started composing in his early teens and continued right up to his death. His last work, a Scherzo for orchestra, was the first of a four-movement symphony which was never completed. And his first work? The earliest published, a song for voice and piano, dates from 1892. Output therefore covered about 42 years. The Planets dates from 1914/16 – a halfway point in Holst’s composing career. Well, everyone knows the Planets. Have you heard all the arrangements on disc? That is, full orchestra, two pianos (four hands), brass band, organ and, yes, solo guitar.

So what else? Well it may surprise you to know that there are, in all, no less than 319 works including:-

  1. Chamber – 24
  2. Band – 32
  3. Solo instrument – 5
  4. Orchestral – 27
  5. Ballet – 3
  6. Opera – 9
  7. Piano/organ – 20
  8. Hymns – 12
  9. Choral (orchestral, varied accompaniment and a cappella) – 45
  10. Female voices – 25
  11. Solo voice and piano – 98
  12. Sacred – 8
  13. Christmas – 11

Total – 319

Much has been recorded which gives us a great opportunity to hear a selection. I will select a dozen and play an excerpt, plus giving some background information. By the end, if you only knew the Planets, you will know another 12. Then, the challenge will be to hear the remaining 306!



Chris has sung in church choirs (the parish churches of Sevenoaks, Bromley and Primrose Hill in North London) and choral societies (City of London Choir and Brompton/Sevenoaks Choral Societies and the former Bromley Male Voice Choir). He played trombone in a number of London orchestras (including the London Medical Orchestra) and has conducted a group of amateur singers. Since 2001, he has been organist at his local parish church. Chris has been a committed advocate of British music for many years and was secretary of the Stanford Society for eight years. In May 2017, he founded the Holst Society which he continues to run.

Professionally, Chris is a solicitor and runs an advisory service for accountants. He is a consultant to a firm of solicitors. He also writes on naval matters, having been the parliamentary correspondent of the magazine Warship World for nearly 30 years.

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