Today in Music History
A Daily Look at Music History For Violin Students
A Look at What Happened on Today's Date
Long, Long Ago . . . Or Maybe Just Last Year
May 25
1698 - Francois Francoeur, French violinist and composer, was born.

1795 - First performance of the revised version of Haydn's Symphony No. 103 The Drumroll in Vienna. The first version premiered March 2, in London.

1845 - August Wilhelmj, German violin virtuoso, was born.

1880 - The International Mozart Foundation was established in Salzburg.

1885 - Tchaikovsky finishes his Manfred Symphony.

1957 - Wake Up Little Susie by the Everly Brothers made the charts.

1985 - Madonna's album Like a Virgin became her first #1 album in the UK, 10 months after it was released.

1988 - First performance of Peter Maxwell Davies's Trumpet Concerto. Philharmonia Orchestra, Giuseppe Sinopoli conducting, John Wallace solost.

1994 - Premiere of James MacMillan's Britannia for orchestra. London Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas conducting.
Can You Guess?
In our solar system the next furthest planet from the sun is named after the Roman god of war, and in Holst's The Planets this planet's section is called "The Bringer of War."  It is also the red planet.  Can You Guess the name of the fourth planet from our sun?
What Else
Gustavus Theodore Holst died May 25, 1934.  He was born September 21, 1874 in Cheltenham, England, where his father was a pianist, teacher, and organist at All Saints' Church in Cheltenham. His was a very musical heritage in that his grandfather, great grandfather and great great grandfather had all been musicians.  Gustav's mother (who died when he was 8) was a talented singer and pianist.

As a child, he studied piano, which his father insisted he practice daily. At age four Gustav's father took him to church where he heard his father play the organ and, on recognising a melody he had learned in his piano lessons, cried out "That's my tune!" He also studied organ and trombone.

Even as a child Gustav was interested in composition.  While still in grammar school he secretly attempted to set the story of Horatius as a cantata.  He studied Berlioz's
Treatise on Instrumentation, and while alone tried what he had written on the piano.  He was so disturbed at the results that he never finished the piece, but he did not allow this "failure" to deter him from his study of music.

In 1888, Gustav entered a competition to write a musical setting of a poem for organ or piano.  He came in sixth in his division.  This encouraged him immensely.  The following year he won . . . and the next year . . . and the year after that.

His heart set on a career in music, Gustav tried for a scholarship to attend Trinity College, but he was not successful. His father sent him to Oxford to study counterpoint with George Frederick Sims of Merton College. He then tried for a scholarship to attend the Royal College of Music, failed to obtain that, but was admitted as a regular student.

July 13, 1892 Gustav had attended a performance of
Götterdämmerung. The influence was profound.  His early compositions at the RCM full of imitations of Wagner's harmonies and moods. 

In 1895 Gustav met fellow student Ralph Vaughan Williams. They became lifelong friends.

Gustav was now being granted maintenance scholarships, but still lacked funds.  To remedy this he began earning money by playing trombone in theater orchestras and local bands. 

Despite the extension of his scholarship for a year, in 1898 Holst decided to start earning his own keep. He applied for a post as trombonist and répétiteur (usually a choirmaster or coach) with the Carla Rosa Opera Company.

In 1900 Holst gave up his job in the opera company and joined the trombones of the Scottish Orchestra. The standard of musicianship was much higher here than with Carla Rosa, and the customary repertoire of Beethoven's Symphonies and Wagner overtures meant that the concerts were always popular. Composition was made very difficult, however, as the punishing schedule left little time for work.

so in 1904 he took a job as the Director of Music at the St. Paul's Girl's School in Hammersmith, a job that he held until he died! It was during his time as a teacher that he composed his most famous work, The Planets. Because he was so busy teaching his students, it took him over two years to complete the piece! Although he is known to this day for The Planets, Holst never felt that it was the best example of his compositions. Throughout his life, Holst continued to compose orchestral music, wind ensemble music, operas, chamber music, and vocal music of many different styles, and had a great interest in various kinds of literature, poetry and astrology.
Gustav Holst
1874 - 1934
Click the picture to see Holst's music.
Music Excerpts from The Planets on This Link.
Did You Guess?
The fourth planet from our sun is Mars.  If you follow the Amazon link for The Planets (at the left) you can hear excerpts from The Planets.

By the way you can be reminded of the names of the planets by remembering the sentence:
My Violin Even Makes Jingles Sound Unusually Nice!  The first letters of the words match the first letters of the planets.  Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus, Neptune.

By the way, if you are the traditional type who demands inclusion of Pluto, change the sentence to My Violin Even Makes Jingles Sound Unusually Nice, Paganini.
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Holst The Planets
Drumroll Symphony
And You'll Find Excertpts from The Drumroll Symphony Here!
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