Iain Farrington

Pianist, organist, composer, arranger

Gustav Holst: Egdon Heath for Piano Solo

Gustav Holst (1874-1934) composed his orchestral work Egdon Heath (Op. 47) in 1927, in response to a commission from the New York Symphony Orchestra.  It is subtitled “Homage to Thomas Hardy” and the piece describes the Dorset landscape, Egdon Heath, which is featured in Hardy’s novel The Return of the Native, written in 1878. Holst was much inspired by Hardy’s writing and met the author while composing the work, who showed him the desolate Dorset landscape. The harmony is stark, spare and modern, dynamics are often extremely quiet, and the music moves slowly with a timeless quality. Its mood is sometimes bleak and forbidding, and its depiction of the cold, impersonal heath is chilling in its accuracy. Near the end, a strange, ghostly dance is evoked, before the work finishes shrouded in mystery.

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