Gustav Holst Analysis
The two movements I focus on In my analysis are the first movement: Mars, and the third movement, Mercury. Mars Mars is the first movement of the suite and it starts with a bang. A slow, ominous intro begins with the sound of snare drums being played in the background.
Soon the horns greet the drums, creating an immediate feeling of danger within the first movement. The powerful tones by the strings section set for a very dramatic, almost inhuman feel, to the movement.It continues to build until it reaches a point and then drops back down, Just setting Itself up for another build even stronger than the iris. The horns then come In utilizing bursts of noise backed by deeper brass instruments. It leaves you constantly waiting for the crescendo but it keeps building, once again giving a larger than life feel to the piece. The feeling of war in the first movement is definitely tangible as you listen. You can almost picture the battle going on in front of you as the movement provides a background to the true war to come.
According to an analysis I looked up the first movement also utilized “triads moving by chromatic steps without any true purpose” (Curfew & Sons). This, to me, almost rather established the feeling of war, which in a way itself is controlled chaos. The music moves in a rhythm that represents both beauty and menace. I felt as though this was supposed to display the contrast of war, and the poetic beauty that comes with something so heinous. Mercury The third movement, Mercury, comes fleeting Into the scene as If it was flying itself.This Is extremely appropriate since Mercury, In Greek Mythology, was a winged messenger. Flitting to and from different places.
That sensation of flying, quickly, back and forth from place to place is exactly the sentiment felt in this movement. The eight, quick strokes of the violin in the beginning almost give the feel of someone sneaking, or scurrying off into the night. The quick climb of the flutes makes one feel as though they are watching something fly into the sky, with the heavier, darker, notes that follow representing an enemy following close behind.There is a feeling of imminent danger as the movement goes on, yet the constant change between light high notes, and heavier dark ones, makes It feel as though the person being chased isn’t aware of what’s happening. According to misclassification. Com, the contrasting of rhythms is something Holds utilizes in many of his works. Although this is the shortest movement of the suite, it makes sense because so much is happening in the short amount of time it is performed.
It also sets the next movement up very well for whatever direction Gustavo wanted to take the piece. You feel as though there can be a more Joyous, upbeat movement following this one; or even a darker, heavier movement which represents a darker side coming into power. Gustavo decided to go with a more upbeat, almost triumphant, feeling movement to follow it up, however there was still many more emotions to be displayed in the coming movements.