The Planets is a suite of orchestral pieces by Gustav Holst, composed between 1914 and 1917. Each of the seven movements reflects the idea or character associated with a particular planet in the Solar System.
The first movement is Mars which represents the bringer of war and features a brutal triad theme with brass and percussion. The contrasting movement of Venus which is named after the goddess of peace, is very soft and serene.
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and is named for the Roman god of war. It is half the size of the Earth, orbiting the Sun at an average distance of 228 million kilometers.
The Martian climate is cold, with average temperatures ranging from -80 degrees Fahrenheit / -60 degrees Celsius to -195 degrees F / -125 degrees C near the poles. Violent dust storms are also common, which whip up clouds of dust that can obscure the Red Planet’s surface.
Scientists are particularly interested in finding evidence of water on Mars. They interpret the many channels, canyons and dry lakebeds found on its surface as evidence that it once had water in liquid form.
Venus is a rocky planet that shares the same size and mass as Earth. It is one of the four planets in our solar system and is a close neighbour.
The planet has a dense atmosphere of carbon dioxide that creates a greenhouse effect on the surface, which makes Venus a hostile environment for life as we know it. Despite this, scientists have detected signals that indicate possible water-based life.
There are also mysterious dark patches in the upper clouds of Venus’s atmosphere that absorb more than half of the planet’s solar energy. Scientists believe these could be chemicals or large colonies of microorganisms.
In ancient Roman mythology, Mercury was a god of communication who wore wings so he could be really fast when he needed to send messages between the gods. Holst takes the idea of this character and uses it to write some very fast music that jumps around between different instruments in the orchestra.
Mercury is the shortest and fastest movement in Holst’s planet suite. The rhythms of this movement are based on two simultaneous keys (B flat and E) that oppose each other in an unusual way.
Jupiter is the planet in the Solar System that symbolizes hedonism, generosity and good-nature. Its large size and bright appearance make it a source of joy for those who observe it.
The Planets, a seven-movement orchestral suite written by Gustav Holst, is named after each of the planets in the Solar System and their supposed astrological character. It was first performed on 29 September 1918.
Mars, the Bringer of War is a senseless & mechanised horror that is entirely inhuman. It is the last movement of The Planets, and was written before the outbreak of World War I.
Saturn is a planet in the outer Solar System. It formed 4.5 billion years ago, and like all the other planets it’s primarily made of hydrogen and helium.
It has a dense metallic core and a thick atmosphere of gas and liquid. Hydrogen, helium and methane make up the outer layers of Saturn’s atmosphere.
At the upper end of the atmosphere, Saturn’s cloud deck is made of ammonia ice crystals. The temperature at this level is -279 deg F (-173 deg C).
The astronomical planet Uranus is a powerful force of change, bringing new ideas and energy. When Uranus is in retrograde it can feel a bit chaotic and unpredictable, but if you can focus on the positives this planet can help you overcome obstacles.
The first movement in the Mars the Planet Suite, ‘Uranus: The Magician’, is an exciting piece of music that is full of quirks. It features unusual time signatures, scales and scalic movement which makes this piece an incredibly fast-paced and exciting one!
The Mars movement of Gustav Holst’s Planet Suite is a powerful opening, evoking the ominous energy of a war march. Astrologers associate Mars with violence, anger and destruction, but it’s also about energy and action.
In this piece, Holst employs a variety of symphonic textures that are groundbreaking at the time and still influence musical trends today. He combines irregular meter, hemiolas and harmonic dissonances to convey feelings of trepidation and threat.
Neptune’s slow meter, beautiful shimmering harps and celesta and the mysterious fade-out of only-female voices in this final movement make for music that is both entrancing and otherworldly.