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The Planets, Op. 95, No. 2 (1914-6/2018)

For Clarinet Choir

Live Performance:

UIUC Clarinet Choir, Joe Clark, conductor

Duration: 51'

  1. I. Mars, the Bringer of War
  2. II. Venus, the Bringer of Peace
  3. III. Mercury, the Winged Messenger
  4. IV. Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity
  5. V. Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age
  6. VI. Uranus, the Magician
  7. VII. Neptune, the Mystic

Instrumentation:

  • Eb Clarinet 1 and/or Ab Clarinet
  • Eb Clarinet 2
  • Bb/A Clarinet 1
  • Bb/A Clarinet 2
  • Bb/A Clarinet 3
  • Bb Clarinet 4
  • Bb Clarinet 5
  • Bb Clarinet 6
  • Bb Clarinet 7
  • Bb Clarinet 8
  • Bb Clarinet 9
  • Bb Clarinet 10
  • Alto Clarinet 1
  • Alto Clarinet 2
  • Basset Horn 1
  • Basset Horn 2
  • Bass Clarinet 1
  • Bass Clarinet 2
  • Bass Clarinet 3
  • Bass Clarinet 4
  • Contra-Alto Clarinet
  • Contrabass Clarinet
  • Harp 1 (optional)
  • Harp 2 (optional)
  • Timpani 1 (optional)
  • Timpani 2 (optional)
  • Percussion 1: Snare Drum, Triangle, Tambourine, Bass Drum, Suspended Cymbal (optional)
  • Percussion 2: Bass Drum, Crash Cymbals, Tambourine (optional)
  • Percussion 3: Tam-Tam, Suspended Cymbal, Glockenspiel, Chimes, Xylophone (optional)
  • Women's Choir, divided (SSA/SSA) (optional)

Program Notes:

I can't recall when I determined to transcribe "The Planets" for clarinet choir, but it was surely encouraged by the tremendous excitement (and size) of the UIUC Clarinet Choir in the 2017-2018 academic year. With over thirty members in the spring, putting on such a large-scale performance seemed, if not straightforward, at least feasible. So, never one to shy from large-scale projects, it simply had to happen at some point.

Holst composed the seven-movement suite between 1914 and 1916. While each movement is named after a planet, Holst based the character of each movement on the astrological character associated with the planet rather the Roman deities or the celestial bodies themselves. Because of its large-scale nature and novel orchestration, the suite enjoyed tremendous popular success, much to Holst's bemoaning the neglect of his other works.