Right in the heart of Cheltenham, we have the Holst Birthplace Museum, showcasing the life of The Planets composer, and preserving legendary memorabilia including the house he was born and grew up in, and the pianoforte he used to compose his famous works. Gustav Holst is of course one of the famous sons of Cheltenham...


On the 25th May 1934, exactly eighty four years ago, the Cheltenham-born composer Gustav Holst died after undergoing an operation for a duodenal ulcer. He was only 59 but he’d packed so much into those years that friends commented he’d just worn himself out. As well as composing masterpieces such as The Planets, he also taught at various institutions such as St Paul’s Girls’ School and Morley College for Working Men and Women, and spent eight months abroad during WW1 teaching soldiers music in Salonika and Constantinople.

Eighty-four years later what is Holst’s legacy?

Well his music continues to be performed and enjoyed across the world, making him one of the country’s most famous and popular composers. If you tuned into the Royal Wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markel on Saturday 19th May 2018 you would have heard the orchestra perform The St Paul’s Suite; a piece inspired by his love of English folk music. Prince Charles is also a huge fan of British music and regularly includes pieces by the country’s composers at Royal events, of which Holst is of course one selection. 

Testament to Holst’s enduring popularity is his inclusion in the programme for the 2018 Cheltenham Music Festival in July. Visitors to the Festival will be able to enjoy a range of Holst music by top-class performers, including mezzo-soprano Dame Sarah Connolly, vocal ensemble The Carice Singers singing Holst Nunc Dimittis and The BBC National Orchestra of Wales featuring cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, (now famous for performing at the Royal Wedding) playing Holst The Perfect Fool (ballet suite) 11’. Tickets for The BBC Orchestra are now sold out, but tickets for Sarah Connolly and The Carice Singers are still available. Significantly The Music Festival doesn’t include The Planets - fantastic piece that it is – but instead includes lesser known but still brilliant works such as the ballet music from The Perfect Fool and Beni Mora.

You'd be unlikely to connect a Royal Wedding with Cheltenham and a Music Festival, but there you have it - Holst's lasting legacy, 84 years on. You can also find out more about Cheltenham's Royal Connections here...

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Holst Birthplace Museum
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Holst Birthplace Museum

This Regency terraced house where the composer of 'The Planets' was born, shows the 'upstairs downstairs' way of life in Victorian times...

WW1 - Gustav Holst’s WW1: With the Salonika Forces
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WW1 - Gustav Holst’s WW1: With the Salonika Forces

An exhibition exploring how Holst taught music to soldiers in Salonika and Constantinople during WW1...

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Cheltenham Music Festival

The Cheltenham Music Festival is all about high-calibre performances, magnificent venues and a huge variety of music...

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