‘Gustav Holst: the man and his music’ by Michael Short

It’s the only thing of its kind, and so indispensable – Julian Rushton, Emeritus Professor of Music, University of Leeds, Chairman, Musica Britannica

It’s not just about ‘The Planets’…

Gustav Holst the inspiring teacher

In Holst’s presence one felt one’s own musical stature heightened and one’s powers strangely augmented. – Edmund Rubbra.

Gustav Holst the pioneer of modern music

He realised that Schoenberg’s themes would never be whistled by the man in the street, but he incorporated some of Schoenberg’s ideas into his own work, adding his individual capacity for direct communication… – Michael Short

Guv Holst the social ambassador

Most of the students [at Morley College] had left school at an early age and worked at humdrum jobs in London, so that Morley often became for them the main centre of their existence, one of them describing the College as ‘a sort of heaven we go to on Mondays and Wednesdays;’ – Imogen Holst

This edition of Michael Short’s original biography of Gustav Holst, written after extensive work with Holst’s daughter Imogen, was produced with the help and support of the Holst Foundation. Featuring Short’s detailed, expert analysis of Holst’s musical style and including newly available information and previously unpublished illustrations.

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More info…

Gustav and Isobel, 1903

Film maker Tony Palmer writes:

Michael Short’s biography is an absolutely indispensable guide to the curious life of this greatly underestimated composer.

The reasons Holst is underestimated are brilliantly analysed by Short – the tragedy of being mostly known by just one work, The Planets. But what was crucial for me when preparing my film biography were the pointers the book gave me towards what was truly fascinating about Holst – the composer’s interest in Eastern philosophy and sounds, his journeyings to North Africa, his spare choral works, the amazing writing for string instruments and the influence of that on Benjamin Britten, even the relationship between Cheltenham, where Holst came from, and India.

Tony Palmer, creator of the film Holst: In the Bleak Midwinter

Michael Short’s book is a treasure house of information, and it’s an outrage that it’s been out-of-print for so long.

Mr Short’s book is a landmark among tributes. – Anthony Burgess Observer, 21/10/1990

Thanks are due to Elaine Andrews at Morley College, Alex Bell, Catherine Edmunds, Jim Littlejohn and Mandy Pannett, for generously given help and support in the preparation of the book.

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