Header Image (book)


Saturday, May 6, 2017

Musical Interlude

(For politics, please scroll down)

Some years ago, Mr. AOW and I went to a National Symphony Orchestra concert presenting the piece below. Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock) narrated the concert, which had accompanying photos taken by NASA projected on the big screens inside the Filene Center at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.

Enjoy Gustav Holst's The Planets (1914-1916) and the accompanying images:

Movements of the suite:

MARS, Bringer of War: 00:00
VENUS, Bringer of Peace: 7:20
MERCURY, Winged Messenger: 14:50
JUPITER, Bringer of Jollity: 18:41
SATURNE, Bringer of Old Age: 26:18
URANUS, The Magician: 35:29
NEPTUNE, The Mystic: 41:00


  1. Interesting piece, though I think the Jupiter score should be a bit more like this one. A very violent bad boy planet.

    1. Kid,
      I'm not into that kind of music, but it certainly conveys Jupiter's personality.

      Was the nature of Jupiter known at the time that Holst composed The Planets? Back then, I doubt that even scientists had an accurate idea of what Jupiter is like.

    2. Music is a close relative of poetry. Both are fanciful by nature, and have little or nothing to do with scientific analyses, or literal definitions. Musical Art has more to do with its highly stimulative, transformative effect on the senses of those fortunate enough to be sensitive to it than anything else.

      This music is not about The Planets per se so much as it about Holst's unique, personal, vividly imaginative IMPRESSION of them.

      It's a bit like Shakespeare's "historical" plays. All are great masterpieces of English dramatic literature, and full of truthful very telling observations about human nature, BUT they are practically useless, if one is merely looking for "historical accuracy." No professor in my experience has ever used Shakespeare's plays to teach a HISTORY course! ;-)

  2. Now that must have been a wonderful experience.

    1. It was!

      At the time, I was shocked that Nimoy looked so old. He was so gaunt and so wrinkled! His voice also had an old man's sound. Apparently COPD, the cause of Nimoy's death a little over 10 years later, was taking its toll. Nevertheless, the concert was wonderful -- both visually and auditorially.

  3. A favorite. It's on my iPod and gets a lot of play.

    Enjoy the distinct voice of each planet.

    1. You took the thoughts right out of my hoary old head, Ducky! ;-)

      There's grandeur, majesty, awe, wonder, mystery, great humor, and a sense of the vastness of the Cosmos in this work. In many ways it owes much to Wagner, Strauss, and Mahler, BUT it is in no way "derivative." Holst's music has a CHARACTER all its own –– the mark of a truly great composer.

      Holst was one of the most brilliant masters of orchestral sonorities who ever lived. His imagination was boundless in this regard.

      He also made significant, frankly thrilling contributions to the music of the Anglican Church.

      I only wish he had been more prolific.


We welcome civil dialogue at Always on Watch. Comments that include any of the following are subject to deletion:
1. Any use of profanity or abusive language
2. Off topic comments and spam
3. Use of personal invective