Gustav Holst | Compositions, The Music of Holst

(1928) A Moorside Suite

- Scherzo- Nocturne- March

This piece is published by Smith.

In 1927 Holst was commissioned to write a competition piece for the BBC and the National Brass Band Festival Committee. The result was The Moorside Suite.

The suite has three movements, and upon a first listen, one hears a noticeable sophistication that was lacking in the military suites. The first movement seems almost reserved in its impact. The rhythm definitely darts about, but it doesn't really go towards any harmonic climax. It leaves the listener almost trapped in an intellectual game of sorts. The second movement, the "Nocturne," is written beautifully with its descending thirds and sixths. It is a warmth that Holst was just beginning to discover, perhaps only matched by "Love on thy heart," from the Seven Partsongs for female choir, or the Lyric Movement. It almost seems like a mature response to "I love my love." In fact, he also arranged this movement for strings, and there is a great recording conducted by his daughter, Imogen Holst, on Lyrita. The last movement is reminiscent of the "Marching Song" from Two Songs without Words.

Composer Gordon Jacob arranged the Moorside Suite for strings in 1952 and later made another arrangement of the piece for military band under the title Moorisde March in 1960 (available from Boosey and Hawkes).

It is said that Holst was very happy upon hearing the fifteen brass bands play his piece in the competition in 1928. The competition was eventually won by the Black Dyke Mills Band.