Talk:The Planets

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Diana Spencer's funeral[edit]

Frankk74 (talk · contribs) added the following with respect to I Vow to Thee, My Country:

Princess Diana requested the hymn at her wedding and her funeral. It is included on the BBC Recording of the Funeral Service.

I reverted. Frankk74 re-reverted. Not wanting an edit war, I discuss it here.

It's inappropriate for this article, whose subject is the composition The Planets. The Planets was not played. Jupiter, a portion of which the movement on which the hymn I Vow to Thee, My Country was not played. Rather, the hymn I Vow to Thee, My Country, a pre-existing poem which was set to music from this movement, was played.

The proffered passage is not a passage about The Planets; it's a passage about I Vow to Thee, My Country. I express no opinion about whether it's worth mentioning in I Vow to Thee, My Country, but I feel that it's out of line in this article. There's enough cruft in this segment of the article without growing these side quotes.

I know, we've got a lot of other dumb stuff in this article, particularly in the "In modern media" section. But see WP:WAX. The fact that other areas of the article need cleanup is not a good reason to make this area need cleanup, too.

What's the consensus? TJRC (talk) 01:27, 26 August 2009 (UTC)

  • My feeling is that we ought to link this article to "I Vow to Thee, My Country" within the Hymn section, and then detail about the lyric and the use of the song (including Di's funeral) can go in that article and not here. That's what links between articles are for -- Foetusized (talk) 02:32, 26 August 2009 (UTC)

Sorry guys. I agree duplication should be avoided. The I vow to thee page mentions the Princess Diana information. I originally I didn't see the cross link to I vow to thee.... So I will remove it... Frankk74 (talk) 07:43, 28 August 2009 (UTC)


The article claims that ""Neptune" was the first orchestral piece of music to have a fade-out ending." The last movement of Mahler's 9th Symphony (1908-9) ends with a held chord (with a pause symbol) marked ersterbend ("dying away"). I submit that this therefore predates "The Planets", but there may be other even earlier examples in the repertoire that I don't know of. PhilUK (talk) 18:48, 29 September 2009 (UTC)

Brahms' Third Symphony (1883) also ends by "fading away." Cobicles (talk) 05:09, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
The Brahms symphony gets quiet and comes to an end. See [1]. I don't know the Mahler symphony mentioned above, but from the description, it's a held quiet chord that also ends. The fade-out ending of Neptune is a true fade-out: the music is continued by the players and faded out after an indeterminate period. I don't know that it's the first, but to me, it seems to be qualitatively different from the quiet ending being described for the Brahms and Mahler symphonies. TJRC (talk) 18:11, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
From the score I saw (I can't recall hearing the work), Brahms' Third ends with a held chord of indeterminate length ("pause" symbol) marked "pp" - no mention of a decrescendo at all. Of course, conductors may choose to interpret it as a fade-out, but it's not marked as such. Mahler's Ninth is definitely marked "dying away". However, I agree that the direction in Holst's score "... until the sound is lost in the distance" - usually achieved by slowly shutting the door on the hidden choir - is qualitatively different from either, so I'm happy to bow out of this discussion! PhilUK (talk) 14:48, 9 December 2009 (UTC)

How I agree with TJRC that Neptune has a true fade - the score makes that clear - but I should hesitate a long time before agreeing that this was the first piece of music to have a fade-out. There are (semi-) precedents. One (rather surprisingly) is Johann Strauss's Perpetuum Mobile from 1861. The original parts published by Cranz of Vienna have the accompaniment continuing beyond the natural finish. There is nothing that actually says 'fade away' but that's clearly what is implied (it is perpetual motion after all) and how it's usually played. Likewise, Dittersdorf's Le Carnaval ou le Rédoute has the same sort of ending as Haydn's Farewell - not exactly a fade-out but perilously close. More interesting are the composers who use the indication niente (nothing) after a diminuendo - meaning 'dying away to nothing'. Vaughan Williams is an obvious example (in the London Symphony of 1914, for one thing). I just think it's too categorical to say it was the first piece with a fade-out. Johann Strauss has a better claim, but even then who's to say there's nothing earlier.Pabmusic (talk) 09:09, 21 June 2011 (UTC)

On a related note, is linking to a page that concerns audio engineering really the best place to go? And is a link for this compositional technique really necessary at all? I would think that the passage in the article would actually work better with nothing more than a good, well-written sentence describing what Holst wrote, and leaving it at that. --Wspencer11 (talk to me...) 21:13, 28 June 2011 (UTC)

Details of the premieres[edit]

This is still causing me some concern. As noted above, the current received wisdom is that there were 3 premieres:

  • an invitation-only (probably incomplete) performance (sometimes referred to as "a rehearsal") on 29 September 1918 in the Queen's Hall in London, conducted by Adrian Boult
  • an incomplete public performance on 10 October 1918 in Birmingham, conducted by Appleby Matthews
    • both of these are mentioned in the lede
  • the first complete performance, on 10 October 1920, also in Birmingham.
    • this is mentioned in Background, but not, surprisingly, in the lede.

Googling "appleby matthews planets 1918" gives me lots of hits for the 1918 Birmingham performance, but most say it was the first complete performance.

Googling "appleby matthews planets 1920" tells me that this was the first complete public performance. They can't both be right.

I've always been suspicious about the date 10 October for both 1918 and 1920. It's certainly possible, but somehow, I wonder if someone has confused some facts.

This, this and this all refer to the first public performance of The Planets being by Albert Coates in 1920, without giving a precise date or the name of the orchestra. However, this says: The first complete public performance was conducted by Albert Coates on November 15, 1920. Prior to that, Adrian Boult led a semi-private rehearsal at the Queen's Hall Orchestra in 1918. That information about the November 15, 1920 performance is corroborated in the liner notes to my recording (Saint Louis SO under Walter Susskind), which also identifies the orchestra as the London Symphony Orchestra. There's no mention of Appleby Matthews in those sites, which leads me to believe that whatever involvement he had in any of the premieres, it was or they were not complete performance. This google search seems to support this. User:Camembert also raised the Coates claim up above.

Given that the vast number of internet sites about The Planets are Wikipedia mirrors, I think it's safe to say that Appleby Matthews conducted the first Birmingham performance and the first public performance, on 10 October 1918 - but it was an incomplete performance so it does not deserve prominence; and the first complete public performance was on 15 November 1920, in London, by the LSO under Albert Coates. Our Albert Coates article says this performance was the first complete one in London (also a matter referred to by Camembert), but for my money, it was the first complete one ever.

I intend to change the article as follows, unless there are objections:

  • The first complete public performance of The Planets was by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Albert Coates on 15 November 1920. An incomplete public performance conducted by Appleby Matthews had taken place in Birmingham on 10 October 1918, and a private, probably incomplete, performance was given on 29 September 1918 in the Queen's Hall in London, conducted by Adrian Boult.

JackofOz (talk) 20:18, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

OK, done now, slightly reworded. -- JackofOz (talk) 07:27, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

Astrological aspect[edit]

Rather than being purely esoteric, there was a strong relationship between music and astrology in the academic norm of the quadrivium which preceded scientific method. The focus in this domain was more properly the cosmological angle on eschatology. An examination must therefore be made of any Renaissance inferences. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:29, 9 October 2010 (UTC)

??????? (wrong talk-page, I guess) --Francesco Malipiero (talk) 16:41, 9 October 2010 (UTC)

Trimming the list again[edit]

This is a perennial task, but I've just cut down the section "Non-orchestral arrangements" again, for all the same reasons we discussed a couple years ago. TJRC (talk) 20:14, 11 January 2011 (UTC)

Suprised noone added the Reece's Peanut Butter Cup commercial again :P. ♫ Melodia Chaconne ♫ (talk) 20:59, 11 January 2011 (UTC)
Again. TJRC (talk) 21:51, 31 August 2017 (UTC)

Black Sabbath?[edit]

Should it be noted that Black Sabbath's song "Black Sabbath" has a riff which was created from "Mars". Geezer Butler said he was playing "Mars" on his bass and Tony Iommi then played a rock version on his guitar. Should this go under the Non-orchestral arrangements section? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:36, 22 January 2011 (UTC)

The song "Am I Evil?" by Diamondhead is an even more obvious knockoff. Those references belong more in the articles for those songs than they belong here.DavidRF (talk) 23:28, 22 January 2011 (UTC)


It's not a planet so the reference in the introduction to "all the planets except Pluto" has been deleted. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 4 April 2011


To have recordings of wind band arrangements of the piece on this page seems inappropriate. It would be far better to have recordings of the original work, or no recordings at all. The wind band arrangements presumably have nothing to do with Holst (in terms of his intentions) and I reckon he'd be pretty annoyed if probably the most accessible source of information on his most important work had recordings of a wind band playing bits of it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:37, 7 March 2014 (UTC)

To exactly which parts of/ items in the article are you referring? Thanks. Martinevans123 (talk) 23:20, 7 March 2014 (UTC)


Section "Structure" reads like an essay. Examples: "It is perhaps instructive", "called only by". Also there are weasel words like "Some commentators". Section also does not give attribution to most perspectives except for maybe the one to the critic. For example it reads "An alternative explanation" without explaining whose explanation. POV is also found in phrases like "a more prosaic example". Actually POV is in the whole article, including possible peacock in the lead. --Mr. Guye (talk) 00:29, 6 July 2014 (UTC)

@Mr. Guye:, I've taken a stab at addressing this section. I've taken the liberty of removing the tags as part of that edit. TJRC (talk) 19:27, 5 August 2014 (UTC)

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Sotbas removed the section "Asteroids" with the comment The section concerning the existence of a piece called "Asteroids" has nothing to do with Holst's composition and should not be included. It was reinstated by Martinevans123 with the comment I disagree. Without "The Planets", these would never have existed. Take to Talk page? Thanks..

My take is that it should be deleted, unless the article can make a connection between the Asteroids compositions and The Planets, with appropriate sourcing. Right now, all we have are two links (one of them dead) indicating that Asteroids has been combined on the same CD with The Planets, but I don't think that's sufficient linkage. If there were something that established that Asteroids was specifically commissioned as a "sequel" or companion piece to The Planets, that would do it for me. TJRC (talk) 22:28, 3 November 2017 (UTC)

The Amazon review at that first source says:
"Moreover, the Berlin Philharmonic added to Holst's galaxy by commissioning four composers to write a movement each for a Suite called "Asteroids." This is its premiere recording."
Perhaps that connection is too slight? I agree that second source is dead and I can't find anything from Deutsche Grammophon about the suite to replace it. I'd suggest perhaps this from the FT. That has this:
"Holst’s The Planets needs a bit of ginger if it is not to smack of caricature today. Six years ago Colin Matthews added Pluto, the Renewers to the suite, bringing it closer to our time. But Rattle wanted more, and came up with the idea of asteroids.
"Kaija Saariaho, Matthias Pintscher, Mark-Anthony Turnage and Brett Dean were commissioned to write six- minute works for Holst on an asteroid of their choice."
"The four new works were not a collaborative project. Three of the four composers chose to depict cataclysms, which makes for a turbulent half-hour here. But the common subjects and instrumentation bring conceptual harmony. Holst is certainly a winner. Rattle conducts the suite with uncritical gusto, letting the orchestra’s lush sheen show. The new pieces save the evening from stodginess."
So I see it as just an artistic extension of Holst's idea. Strictly speaking it indeed has "nothing to do with" The Planets. It's just a kind of recent extension, an inspiration. That's all. If there really is "no connection", then I guess we should rip out the Pluto section too. Martinevans123 (talk) 22:58, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
I think the Pluto bit should stay; the article makes clear that it was commissioned as an addition to The Planets, and I think that's the type of connection that justifies its presence.
On The Asteroids', the Amazon review seems a little vague, although it certainly implies it was commissioned as a companion to The Planets. But are Amazon reviews WP:RS? I can't tell where that review came from. It's credited to Edith Eisler, but that may just be some Amazon customer.
The FT article sounds like a good one, though. It's paywalled for me, but based on your quotation of it, "...were commissioned to write six- minute works for Holst," it sounds like there's a documented connection, although the choice of words by the FT writer seems odd: commissioned to write for Holst?
I found this statement an Boosey-Hawkes: "Ceres" was first premiered under the baton of Simon Rattle with the Berlin Philharmonic in March of 2006 as part of Rattle’s project to commission works which compliment Gustav Holst’s The Planets. I don't think it's a stretch to impute the statement about "Ceres" to the four of them, particularly when combined with your FT find.
By the way, while we're at it, I'd kill the paragraph in the "Pluto" section about Wilson's "Songs of Distant Earth"; that seems related to the IAU decision on Pluto, but not to The Planets. TJRC (talk) 23:35, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
I agree, that FT wording does seem a bit odd. Your Boosey and Hawkes source is a good one. I also agree about the Wilson paragraph. Martinevans123 (talk) 23:43, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
Hey, is a reliable source? In the context of Pluto already existing as a Planets-add-on, it says "[Simon Rattle] took the initiative to commission the music of these several asteroids to join Pluto." TJRC (talk) 23:44, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
I'm not sure. But I'm struggling now with deciding who commissioned what - was it all three? Berlin Philharmonic, Rattle and EMI? Or just Rattle. The current sources do not support either the orchestra or the label? Martinevans123 (talk) 10:57, 4 November 2017 (UTC)

The booklet with the CDs[1] states "Asteroids by Saariaho, Pintscher, Turnage and Dean commissioned by the Berliner Philharmoniker". In his accompanying note, Simon Rattle says that when EMI asked him to record The Planets for a second time he was aware of Colin Matthews' Pluto addition and had the idea to take this further: "So we commissioned works from four composers who have worked with the Berliner Philharmoniker, to make a suite of pieces that would be like a calling card for the orchestra." The booklet refers the reader to for further information, but since the fall of EMI to Warner the website has become a travesty – it doesn't even get the track listing correct. --Deskford (talk) 23:25, 5 November 2017 (UTC)


  1. ^ Holst: The Planets / Simon Rattle, Berliner Philharmoniker (Media notes). EMI Classics. 2006. 09463 69690-2.