125 Moments: 028 Holst’s The Planets

Detail of the cover of a manuscript (not in Holst’s hand) of The Planets used by Frederick Stock for the U.S. premiere

Gustav Holst‘s suite for large orchestra, The Planets, was conceived to be “connected with astrology rather than astronomy. There is no ‘program’ attached to the work beyond that which is associated with the subtitles of the movements,” according to Felix Borowski’s note in the CSO’s program book.

The first complete performance of all seven movements was given in London on November 15, 1920, with Albert Coates conducting the London Symphony Orchestra. Less than two months later, on New Year’s Eve, Frederick Stock led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (the offstage women’s chorus was omitted) in the U.S. premiere of The Planets at Orchestra Hall.

“His rhythmic figures are fascinating, curious, and irresistible. The demonic insistent martial pulse of the first fragment, ‘Mars, Bringer of War,’ was the most vital sample,” wrote Ruth Miller in the Chicago Tribune. “The Planets should be a most dependable and successful addition to the orchestra repertoire.”

December 31, 1920, and January 1, 1921

Chicago Symphony Orchestra: 125 Moments was created to celebrate the ensemble's 125th season in 2015-16 and gathered significant events, illustrated with imagery and artifacts from the collections of the Rosenthal Archives.

This article also appears here.

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