program notes by composition > F > First Suite in E-flat

First Suite in E-flat

Gustav Holst

British composers have produced several exceptionally fine works for the concert band. Of all these, First Suite in E-flat by Gustav Holst (1874-1934) is generally accepted as the cornerstone. Written in 1909, it is one of the few band originals that have been transcribed for symphony orchestras. Various instruments repeat the opening theme, the Chaconne incessantly as others weave filigrees about the theme. In the middle of the movement the principal theme is inverted for several repetitions. The Intermezzo is based on a variation of the Chaconne theme, presented first in an agitated style, then in a cantabile mood, the two styles alternating throughout the movement. The two themes of the March , one dynamic and the other lyric, are also taken from the Chaconne theme, the first being something of an inversion, whereas the lyric theme is "right-side up". Eventually the two are combined in a thrilling counterpoint leading to the ending.

Gustav Holst (1874-1934) was a classical British composer. Born into a musical family, he played piano and violin, and began composing when he was about twelve. He served as a church organist and choirmaster. When neuritis in his right hand forced him away from the organ he took up the trombone and succeeded as an orchestral musician. Holst was influenced by socialism, and attended lectures by George Bernard Shaw with whom he shared a passion for vegetarianism. He became deeply interested in Hindu philosophy and learned Sanskrit. He dabbled in astrology, and read astrological fortunes until his death. He was appointed Director of Music at St. Paul's Girls School in Hammersmith. He became interested in old English folksongs and Tudor composers. Holst's compositions for wind band guaranteed him a position as the medium's cornerstone, as seen in the many present-day programs featuring his two Suites for Military Band .

Last updated on July 16, 2013 by Palatine Concert Band