Gustav Holst the Planets Neptune

There were professional musicians in the previous three generations of Holst’s family and it was clear from his early years that he would follow the same calling. He hoped to become a pianist but was prevented by neuritis in his right arm. Despite his father’s reservations, he pursued a career as a composer, studying at the Royal College of Music under Charles Villiers Stanford. Unable to support himself by his compositions, he played the trombone professionally and later became a teacher—a great one, according to his colleague Ralph Vaughan Williams. Among other teaching activities, he built up a strong tradition of performance at Morley College, where he served as musical director from 1907 until 1924 and pioneered music education for women at St Paul’s Girls’ School, where he taught from 1905 until his death in 1934. He was the founder of a series of Whitsun music festivals, which ran from 1916 for the remainder of his life.