The Planets: Through the Telescope

Take a look through the telescope to get a better view of the planets—and Gustav Holst’s The Planets.


The Romans named the closest planet to the sun for Mercury, the messenger god. Holst composed a lively melody to represent the planet that orbits around the sun faster than any other planet in the galaxy.



Venus shines brightly in the night sky, since it is the closest planet to Earth. Holst composed a lovely, dreamy movement for this planet, named for the goddess of love, art and beauty.



The Red Planet gets its hue from the iron-rich particles on its surface. It gets its name from the Roman god of war, and Holst captured the planet with dramatic brass and intense, march-like rhythms.



Romans bestowed the name of their supreme and most powerful god on the largest planet in the solar system. Holst gave some of his most joyful and exciting music in The Planets to Jupiter to depict the god of the sky, protector of all and giver of victory.



Saturn—named for the Roman god of renewal, wealth and old age—is most famous for its beautiful rings, which can be seen from Earth. Holst depicts the “Bringer of Old Age” with slow, unsettling chords that eventually give way to a heavy march; the second half of the movement features a soothing, circular pattern in the orchestra’s woodwind section.



Named for the father of the sky in Greek mythology, Uranus was the first planet to be discovered by telescope. For this cold planet, Holst wrote a movement he subtitled “the Magician.”



The planet furthest from the sun is the coldest in the galaxy, and named for the Roman god of water. To depict this faraway icy planet, Holst used harps, celeste, a treble choir and dreamy melodies full of mystery.



Hear the New Jersey Symphony perform Holst’s The Planets.


HOLST The Planets

Xian Zhang, conductor
Newark Voices | Heather J. Buchanan, conductor
New Jersey Symphony

Recorded October 13, 2019, at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.

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This New Jersey Symphony adventure is generously sponsored by the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey.