Gustav Holst | Compositions, The Music of Holst

(1921) The Lure

This piece is published by Faber.

In 1921, Holst was commissioned to write a piece without much notice for a dance company in Chicago. The scenario for the commission is by Alice Barney, in which a candle flame "is shining brilliantly." The story continues with the Flame entrancing powerless moths in the room except for the most beautiful moth, named Folia. Her indifference to him makes the Flame radiate even stronger with desire, until even Folia is burned by his fire. The scene ends with the Flame being snuffed, proving that there are even greater powers abound.

Imogen Holst noted that the longest dance in the piece is based on a Northumbrian tune collected by W.G. Whittaker. The music of The Lure resembles some of his other pieces composed around that time, including The Japanese Suite, and passages from The Perfect Fool. There is also a cadence very similar to a motif used in Savitri. The use of so many quotes shows that the composition was likely rushed to get the score completed as soon as possible. Yet although this seems to be the case, it does not appear that the piece was ever produced. Holst apparently tried to get the piece performed in 1926 unsuccessfully.