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Gustavus Theodore von Holst was born on 21 September 1874 in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.His parents were Adolph von Holst, a professional musician and Clara Lediard, daughter of a respected Cirencester solicitor.
The Holst side of the family was of Swedish, Latvian and German descent, with at least one professional musician in each of the previous three generations.
In the 1891 census on findmypast, the entire family are living in Vittoria Walk, Cheltenham with a cook and a nurse.
In 1897 Holst accepted an invitation to conduct the socialist choir in London and fell in love with Miss Isobel Harrison, a new soprano who came to the choir. How she persuaded him to give up living on nuts, get rid of a beard and otherwise bring himself up to date is amusingly told in Imogen Holst’s biography of her father.
Holst sprang into world wide fame in 1919, with the appearance of his first great symphonic work – ‘The Planets’. Each movement of the symphony is names after one of the Planets and the symphony is regarded as one of the first modern descriptive compositions.
Holst died in London on 25 May 1934
In 1949 we are told about a plaque that was unveiled in Cheltenham in memory of Gustav Holst by the famous composer Dr Ralph Vaughan Williams. As he did so he said of Holst ‘ To every one of us he was a great artist, a great teacher and a great friend.’