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The Reception of the music of Gustav Holst in Australia 1900 - 1950


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Alomes, CA 2015 , 'The Reception of the music of Gustav Holst in Australia 1900 - 1950', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The contribution of Gustav Holst to the establishment of a distinctive British voice in the
European compositional tradition has been historically undervalued and generally focused on
just a handful of works, particularly his suite for orchestra, The Planets. Yet Holst’s
individual style and contribution in Britain and beyond must be re-evaluated to provide a
fuller picture of British music and its influence in the first half of the twentieth century.
Much of what was written about Holst in his own era reflected the concerns of British
nationalism at the time and the prominence of other figures such as Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Recent scholarship has been attempting to redress the balance and this research constitutes a
contribution to the efforts to re-evaluate the contribution of Holst, the originality of his music
and his legacy. The historiography surrounding Holst has been examined and analysed to
establish the prevailing attitudes and opinions of his work in Britain in this period and how
these were propagated. The thesis then compares the objective reception history of Holst’s
compositions in Britain and in the far-flung outpost of Australia. Such a comparison throws
significant light on British influences on Australian musical culture in the first half of the
twentieth century and identifies key figures and institutions in the transmission of British
music to the Australian public and its reception. Many were long-standing friends and
colleagues of Holst or had been involved in performances of his work in Britain.
This thesis explores the reception of the music of Gustav Holst by the generally conservative
Australian musical public in the first half of the twentieth century and argues that the
reception of Holst’s music in Australia was resoundingly successful. Such was the praise that
musicians, audiences, and critics alike heaped on his music that it is surprising that there were
not more performances given. The Australian music scene has been shown through this
study of the reception of Holst to have been far more open to ‘modern’ music than was
expected. In doing so it arrives at a new narrative that reassesses not only the influential
contribution of the composer, providing evidential balance to the historically one-sided
account, but also expounds the pivotal role played by champions in the Australian music
scene in the broadening of musical taste. The research has also highlighted the difficulties
faced by many contemporary British composers, not only in Australia, but also in their native
England to have their music performed and for it to find a permanent place in the repertory.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Alomes, CA
Keywords: Music, Musicology, Holst, Gustav Holst, Australian Musical Performances, English music.
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Copyright 2015 The Author

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