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Gustav Theodore Holst was best known for his orchestral suite The Planets. His distinctive compositional style was the product of many influences, Wagner and Strauss being most crucial early in his development, also that of Stanford (whom he studied under at the Royal College of Music). The subsequent inspiration of the English folksong revival of the early 20th century led by composers such as Vaughan-Williams (whom Holst was a lifelong friend to), and the example of such rising modern composers as Ravel, led Holst to develop and refine an individual style.

Holst and Vaughan Williams in Malvern

Credit: William Gillies Whittaker (1876–1944) 1921

The festival has premiered two of Holst's works, both in Gloucester Cathedral in the early 20th century. In 1925, under artistic director Herbert Brewer, the festival premiered Holst's unaccompanied motet The Evening Watch, and in 1931 under artistic directer Herbert Sumsion was his Choral Fantasia.

Holst at Worcester 2024

A number of Holst's pieces are being performed at Worcester this year. The first being his Hymn of Jesus on Saturday 27 July.

The second piece to be performed in an evening concert on Sunday 28 July is his The Cloud Messenger.

Listen to these pieces below.