Gustav Holst was at the heart of the renaissance in English music during the first half of the 20th century and his statue was unveiled on 4 April 2008 by Mark Elder, the Music Director of the Hallé Orchestra.
He was born at 4 Clarence Road in Cheltenham, the present Holst Birthplace Museum, on 21 September 1874. Influenced by William Morris’s ideals of socialism, he believed that every person should have the opportunity to make music.
It is as the composer of The Planets, one of the world’s most popular masterpieces that Holst became famous. His other works, some 400 in number include opera, ballet, symphonies and vocal music.
He attended Pate’s Grammar School in Cheltenham and went on to teach at St Paul’s Girls’ School in London where his composing room is still preserved. Holst’s music is especially admired in the USA.
In his last years he taught composition at Harvard University and lectured at the University of Michigan, ensuring an international reputation. Yale University awarded Holst the prestigious Elias Howland Memorial prize in 1924.
Holst wrote that he was grateful for three things in his life: music, friendship and the Cotswold Hills. He walked far and often with his friend Ralph Vaughn Williams, exchanging musical ideas: “walking always sets me thinking of new tunes’. He conducted The Planets in Cheltenham 80 years ago in the Town Hall in March 1927, which he described as ‘ ... the most overwhelming event of my life...’
MISS ELIZABETH HAMOND
The Gustav Holst Memorial Fountain was made possible by the bequest of Miss Elizabeth Hamond. For many years Miss Hamond lived and worked in Cheltenham and was devoted to the town.
In her will she left a generous legacy to the Cheltenham Civic Society to be used to benefit the town. The Civic Society decided that this would be used for a full size bronze statue of Gustav Holst with an octagonal plinth depicting the planets.
The Holst statue, which incorporates seven plaques in the plinth depicting the Planets was sculpted by Anthony Stones FRBS, FRSA and cast at the Pangolin Foundry in Chalford, Stroud.
Anthony Stones has completed numerous prestigious public commissions both in Britain and abroad.