Gustav Holst | Compositions, The Music of Holst

Due to the work and research of many outstanding musicologists, there is a much greater understanding of the life and music of Gustav Holst. Many essays have been published in scholarly journals, and I am hoping to provide many of these essays on this website.

The Hymn of Jesus:
Holst's Gnostic Exploration of Time and Space

 By Raymond Head

(Appeared in Tempo (Boosey and Hawkes, London), July 1999.)

Gustav Holst’s The Hymn of Jesus (written in August 1917) has always been one of his most widely performed works. Its first performance in London in 1920 was an outstanding success; Ralph Vaughan Williams, the dedicatee, said he just ‘wanted to get up and embrace everyone and then get drunk’. Yet perhaps it is taken too much for granted. There remains the mystery why Holst chose to set an obscure Gnostic text in ancient Greek at a time of national catastrophe in the First World War. What was he offering his audience? (...more)