Holst – Jupiter

Kirei neeeeeeee….

I had never heard this piece until it came as one of the preset ringtones on my Japanese cellphone. Trying to fit so much intense melodicism through that tiny little speaker didn’t really do it justice though, I have to say. For a while, it even served as my alarm clock sound in the morning since I was too cheap to buy a real clock. Waking up to this sweeping theme could be at times inspiring, but mostly it just startled the hell out of me.

Tomorrow I’m taking a test for Japanese language proficiency (that I almost certainly will dekinai) and in honor of that I’d like to share these alternate lyrics for the main theme at 3:10, translation to follow.

Ganbatte, minna sama ganbaro, minna sama ganbaro!

Shoganai da kedo minna ganbatte, minna… gaman shiyou!

Sing it to yourself, hum it. Learn it, love it. I sure do! In fact, I’ll never be able to listen to Holst’s Jupiter without hearing these words in my head! Here’s what they mean, roughly…

Try your best, everyone try your best, everyone try your hardest!

Nothing can be done, but everyone try anyway, everyone… let’s endure!

Indeed, and you can bet your amai hesusu that that’s what I’ll be doing twelve hours from now.

This is a fantastic performance of a great piece. Holst was influenced by Ravel- and you can certainly hear that in the rich textures of his orchestration. To my ear, though, what is more notable is a hint of the folksy diatonic melodicism that would characterize Aaron Copland a few decades later. This music, and especially its main theme (at 3:10), has a substance to it- it’s just so melodic… but yet Holst is careful to keep this sing-songiness balanced with sections of harsh, abrupt rhythms.

So, wish me luck on my nihongo no shiken, and I’ll mo ikkai intaaneto de kaku later on. Piisu!

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#1 
Written By Eric Lee on December 7th, 2008 @ 12:33 pm

It’s a great piece…the reprise of the hymn at the very end provides a nice example of Holst using harmonic tension rather than rhythmic tension to, as Jeff said, balance the melody’s otherwise song-like quality. I’d never heard this performance, but it is fantastic, particularly the dynamics in the hymn before they hit the entrance of the brass chorale.

#2 
Written By Brad Phillis on December 10th, 2008 @ 1:01 pm

Holst not only seems to precede Copland, but also John Williams. You can see the parallels between this piece (as well as the rest of the suite, especially Mars)and Star Wars.

I played this piece before, as well as some Copland, and something you don’t immediately pick up on is the odd meter. Try counting out measures, and if you start when the downbeats are felt you get some prime-number time signatures. Listen to the juicy Copland chorales, and they too have weird meters, like 11 or 13. Just goes to show you that some really great tunes dictate the form.

#3 
Written By Dan Newman on January 15th, 2009 @ 6:22 pm

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