HOLST Gustav (September 21, 1874 - May 25, 1934) was born in Cheltenham, England, in 1874 and was taught to play the piano and violin, and began to compose when he was about twelve.
Holst met Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1895 while they were students at the Royal College of Music, and the two remained lifelong friends, depending on one another for support and assistance although there is little similarity in their music. Holst found it impossible to earn a living as a composer, so he took a post as a singing teacher. Around 1904 he was appointed Musical Director at St. Paul's Girls' School, Hammersmith, his biggest teaching post and one which he kept until his death. Holst visited the United States twice, once to lecture at the University of Michigan, and again for a six-month period as a lecturer at Harvard.
Holst is recognized today as the composer of "The Planets," which remains wildly popular, but for little else except perhaps his "St. Paul Suite." However, Holst was the creator of operas, chamber, vocal, and orchestral music of many different styles, based on subjects as varied as folk songs, Tudor music, Sanskrit literature, astrology, and contemporary poetry. His great interest in Eastern mysticism can be heard in his settings of Choral Hymns from the "Rig Veda" and his short opera "Savitri."
He died in 1934, four months short of his sixtieth birthday, after a lifetime of poor health excacerbated by a concussion suffered in a backward fall from the conductor's podium, from which he never fully recovered.