The British composer Gustav Holst was fascinated with the heavens and immersed himself in astrology. He liked to read horoscopes and discuss such esoterica with his friends.
From 1914 to 1916, Holst applied his astrological interests to the composition of a seven-movement orchestral suite called, appropriately, “The Planets.”
In it, he explores the ways each planet affects the human psyche. There is no science here; it’s all about emotion and supernatural influence.
Mars is the bringer of war, Venus the bringer of peace. Jupiter is jolly, Uranus magical and Neptune mystical. Mercury is the winged messenger and Saturn is the bringer of old age.
The music is famous and recognizable even to those who can’t name the work or composer. Some of the ideas, such as the percussive and repetitive ostinato in 5-4 time featured in Mars or the string flurries of Jupiter, were borrowed over and over again by Hollywood film composers such as John Williams.
It’s robust music and a great way to start a season.
The Charleston Symphony Orchestra presents “The Planets,” along with Brahms’ choral “Schicksalslied” and Verdi’s overture to the opera “La forza del destino,” in two back-to-back concerts at the Sottile Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Patrons also are invited to attend an open dress rehearsal at 7 p.m. Thursday.
This is the first program of the 2012-13 Masterworks series.
Guest conductor David Amado, music director of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, will take the podium.
Tickets are available online at Charleston Symphony.org, by calling 723-7528, ext. 110, or by visiting 572 Savannah Highway, Suite 100, during regular business hours.