Planets Intro

2017 Blossom Music Festival
August 26 – Saturday at 8:00 p.m.


Introducing the Concert

Czech Style & Astrology

Our concert tonight features Gustav Holst’s epic musical depiction of The Planets, led by guest conductor Cristian Măcelaru. Written a century ago in the years just before World War I, this cycle of seven masterful tone poems for large orchestra and women’s voices was an immediate smash hit in a world much intrigued by a group of heavenly bodies that have fascinated humanity for thousands of years.

Planetary fascination — and the popularity of Holst’s musical portraits — has continued undiminished into the space age, with the discovery of additional interplanetary objects within our solar system and of planets far beyond. Technology and human ingenuity have also afforded us an extraordinary amount of new information about outer space.

Holst’s astrological suite features only seven planets — he chose not to include our homebase of Earth. And Pluto was not discovered until 1930, nearly two decades after he wrote The Planets. A 2006 decision by the International Astronomical Union to define a new sub-category of dwarf planet for Pluto has, in fact, kept Holst’s original work “current and up-to-date.” (For those interested, recordings of The Planets are available featuring a movement titled Pluto, written by a later 20th-century composer.)

Our program opens with an inspiring work by the Czech master Antonín Dvořák. Written at the height of his powers and fame as a composer, the Violin Concerto is from 1880. While less well-known than the “Big Four” concertos — by Beethoven, Brahms, Mendelssohn, and Tchaikovsky — this concerto offers a unique musical landscape, something akin to Brahmsian classicism melded together with localized and evocative details chosen from Dvořák’s own Czech background. It is performed here with guest soloist Augustin Hadelich. —Eric Sellen