Gustav Holst | Compositions, The Music of Holst

(1930) Hammersmith Op. 52

- Prelude- Scherzo

This piece is published by Boosey and Hawkes.

In 1930 Holst was commissioned to write a piece for the BBC Military Band. As Imogen Holst once wrote, the music was "... the outcome of long years of familiarity with the changing crowds and the changing river. Those Saturday night crowds, who were always good natured even when they were being pushed off the pavement into the middle of the traffic. And the stall holders in the narrow lane behind the Broadway, with their unexpected assortment of goods lit up by brillant flares. And the large woman at the fruit shop who always called him 'dearie' when he bought oranges for his Sunday picnics at St. Paul's ..."

The "Prelude" is supposed to represent the river that runs through this area, a river that Holst himself said, "goes on its way unnoticed and unconcerned." This is equally true of much of Holst's own music during this time. Holst also arranged Hammersmith for orchestra. It was this arrangement that premiered on the same day as William Walton's Belshazzar's Feast in 1931, and many people actually booed at Hammersmith's end.

It is worth mention that the original band version was not premiered until 1954, exactly twenty years after Holst's death.