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Gustav Holst (1874–1934)

Gustav Holst was an English composer (with a Swedish name). As a child he learned the piano, violin, trombone and organ, and later became a professional trombonist for a time, before taking up a career as a schoolteacher in London. He continued to teach and compose for children’s and amateur music groups even after The Planets made him famous.

The Planets was composed in 1913–14 after a friend introduced Holst to astrology, and characterises each of the astrological planets in turn (though not strictly in order). It received its first public performance in 1918 and achieved immediate public success. Although Holst wrote more than 200 works in total, none ever matched the popularity of The Planets.