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Year: published in Duration: c. Nineteen long years passed between the composition of Holst's last two works for winds, the Second Suite in F and the masterful Hammersmith.
Commissioned by the British Broadcasting Corporation BBC for its military band, Hammersmith was Holst's first band work for professional musicians, the earlier suites having been composed for amateur bands. Holst was to have conducted the first performance at the third annual convention of the American Bandmasters Association, but he was forced to cancel his appearance due to illness. Hammersmith in its original incarnation, Holst later re-wrote it for symphony orchestra remained unpublished and did not receive another performance until nearly 22 years later.
When that long-delayed second performance finally arrived, it was given by an American band the Kiltie Band of the Carnegie Institute of Technology -- now Carnegie Melon University -- in Pittsburgh, Penn.
The score bears the dedication "To the Author of the Water Gypsies. Herbert, and his novel deals with a working-class girl from Hammersmith who shares her life with two very different types of men: An illiterate barge worker and an artist, a duality that obviously appealed to Holst.
Hammersmith is a Prelude and Scherzo, its composition a result of Holst's long familiarity with the Hammersmith metropolitan borough of London, which sits on the Thames River. At the time, , inhabitants were packed into an area of 3. Holst's fascination with the duality of his surroundings is reflected in his composition.
The Prelude representing the inexorable, "unnoticed and unconcerned" river is slow and unconcerned, reflecting a duality in its very key: E Major set against F minor. The Scherzo representing the Cockney street markets and the laughing, bustling crowds is boisterous, exuberant, and vulgar. The music and mood of the Prelude returns at the end of the composition, bringing us back to the great slow-moving river, passing relentlessly out to sea. It is named for the well-known West London borough upon the river Thames where Holst lived and worked for many years of his life.
Unfortunately, he had to cancel his appearance due to illness. The piece was not performed again until Robert Cantrick at Carnegie Mellon University revived it in But Imogen also writes:. During all the years since then, his favorite London walk had been along the river-path to Chiswick. In Hammersmith, the river is the background to the crowd; it is a river that goes on its way unnoticed and unconcerned. With all of this offered imagery, it is difficult not to interpret Hammersmith as a direct representation of the actual place it was named for.
We can easily imagine ourselves in the shoes of someone who has ventured from the banks of the river into the crowded marketplaces and loud taverns. What this interpretation fails to fully account for, however, is an unaccompanied clarinet solo that suddenly appears halfway through the piece. Many have explained this moment as a respite from the streets, or a retreat back to the river, but to a keen listener, the clarinet melody is simply too different in tone and presentation for this programmatic interpretation to be completely satisfying.
Nonetheless, it has remained popular over the years. A new theory put forth by University of Georgia alumnus Evan Harger posits that Hammersmith is best understood from a philosophical viewpoint. Despite its attempts, The Mystic can never convert The Philistine; their blind faith and common sense intellect are simply too incompatible.
They are serene, secure, and beautiful in their simplicity. The scherzo introduces The Philistine in the form of a fugue -— a highly mathematical and intellectual musical form.
Conflict ensues. Suddenly, represented by the solo clarinet, The Artist enters and transfixes The Philistine with a humble melody. As other instruments join in, a conversation takes places between these two characters, and progress is made.
As in life, however, this union is only temporary, and soon our characters depart in their own directions. As The Artist and The Philistine grow distant, The Mystic is left where it began, steadfast and strong in its convictions, but not without hints of doubt.
The piece ends amicably but somberly, without conflict -— but also without resolve. From Wind Repertory Project. Navigation menu Personal tools Create account Log in. Namespaces Page Discussion. Views Read View source View history. This page was last edited on 3 June , at
Hammersmith: Prelude and Scherzo
Year: published in Duration: c. Nineteen long years passed between the composition of Holst's last two works for winds, the Second Suite in F and the masterful Hammersmith. Commissioned by the British Broadcasting Corporation BBC for its military band, Hammersmith was Holst's first band work for professional musicians, the earlier suites having been composed for amateur bands. Holst was to have conducted the first performance at the third annual convention of the American Bandmasters Association, but he was forced to cancel his appearance due to illness. Hammersmith in its original incarnation, Holst later re-wrote it for symphony orchestra remained unpublished and did not receive another performance until nearly 22 years later. When that long-delayed second performance finally arrived, it was given by an American band the Kiltie Band of the Carnegie Institute of Technology -- now Carnegie Melon University -- in Pittsburgh, Penn.
Best known for his orchestral suite The Planets , he composed many other works across a range of genres, although none achieved comparable success. His distinctive compositional style was the product of many influences, Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss being most crucial early in his development. The subsequent inspiration of the English folksong revival of the early 20th century, and the example of such rising modern composers as Maurice Ravel , led Holst to develop and refine an individual style. There were professional musicians in the previous three generations of Holst's family and it was clear from his early years that he would follow the same calling. He hoped to become a pianist but was prevented by neuritis in his right arm. Despite his father's reservations, he pursued a career as a composer, studying at the Royal College of Music under Charles Villiers Stanford. Unable to support himself by his compositions, he played the trombone professionally and later became a teacher—a great one, according to his colleague Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Hammersmith by Gustav Holst
Hammersmith: Prelude and Scherzo, Op. Instrumentation: Military Band. The premiere was conducted by the Marine Band's commander, Taylor Branson, although Holst himself was previously scheduled to conduct before falling ill. In fact, many even forgot that it was played at all; the April 14, performance by the Kiltie Band of Carnegie-Mellon University is often wrongly considered the premiere, and the Marine Band Library thought that the original parts were lost. It was not until quite recently that the original Marine Band parts were uncovered, as can be seen below. Click to expand.
Hammersmith, Op.52 (Holst, Gustav)