Today’s music video is Jupiter from the Gustav Holst Suite The Planets, and here it is performed by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by the Australian conductor, Sir Charles Mackerras, this clip from The Proms of 2009.
This video was posted to You Tube by RupertJones
Sometimes, it’s just wonderful to hear a full orchestra in full flight, and this video clip for today shows just that.
This is just such a beautiful piece of music, and when you hear of the composers of today who write such wonderful music in the modern rock music genre, and also in every other genre of modern music, it is worth showing some perspective when comparing it with Classical Music.
This piece of music is taken from a suite, and what I mean by that is a composition of a number of pieces of music that are just part of the whole piece of music.
This one piece of music is from a seven piece suite written by renowned English Composer Gustav Holst. This piece has the title of Jupiter, The Bringer Of Jollity, and is perhaps the best known of the seven pieces that make up the whole suite. Because it is so well known, there are quite a number of video clips that have been made to accompany this music, and most of those show images of the Planet Jupiter, but I find that I would rather view the piece as Holst wrote it, for a full orchestra.
The title of the whole suite is The Planets. Holst wrote this suite over a period of two years, from 1914 to 1916. While dealing with those bodies that make up our Solar System, Holst wrote this not from the perspective of Astronomy, but for the aspect of Astrology. In this suite Holst wrote seven separate pieces, one for each of the Planets known to exist at the time of writing. He has left out Planet Earth, and the Planet Pluto had not yet been discovered at the time of writing. He wrote those seven pieces of music, in a slightly different progression from the way the Planets are in their actual positions. Holst wrote Mars first, and then Venus, followed by Mercury, and then reverting to the actual progression, Jupiter Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. He gave each of the Planets a separate title as well, indicating the way he perceived the Planets, and this also allied with the Astrological aspects of those Planets as well.
- Mars, the Bringer of War
- Venus, the Bringer of Peace
- Mercury, the Winged Messenger
- Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity
- Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age
- Uranus, the Magician
- Neptune, the Mystic
As the whole suite took him two years to complete, it was not played in full until after its completion, and because of that, most audiences perceived that the first part of the Suite, Mars, The Bringer Of War, was written by Holst with reference to the First World War, which was incorrect, as this was the first part of the Suite he composed, and it was actually finished prior to the outbreak of hostilities in that Great War. What is really good about Mars is that in that piece, Holst gets the feel of War, and in particular, mechanised warfare, and it is said that while the piece contains music that reminds people of machine gun fire, Holst himself had never actually heard a machine gun being fired.
While there were four private performances of the whole suite, it was not heard in public until first performed in 1920 and that performance was by the London Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Albert Coates.
It was widely praised at the time, and since then has been a favourite piece for full orchestras, especially in the UK. Done in full, the whole performance of all seven pieces takes nearly 50 minutes.
This Suite was one of the first Classical LP records I added to my collection, and that was in the 1973. My LP version is a recording of the suite performed by The New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Bernstein.
Now comes the part that is a little difficult to comprehend, and gives some insight into why a suite of this nature, even considering it has seven parts, takes so long to write. This whole suite was composed for an extremely large orchestra, not a small, medium or even large, but for an extremely large orchestra. Now, what that effectively means is that Holst not only had to compose the suite, but to compose the music for every instrument in that huge orchestra. Now perhaps you can see why it took so long.
As you watch the video, you’ll again see why I have included the performance showing that full orchestra rather than just the music overlaid with images of the Planet Jupiter. As the cameras move around this vast group of instruments you see how a task like this becomes so complex.
While modern music has become so popular, it is sometimes worthwhile to revisit Classical music to see that music is not just a recent thing, but has in fact been around for as long as people have walked the Earth.