Jewels in Her Crown: Treasures of Columbia University Libraries Special Collections

Exhibition Themes > Music > 234. Gustav Holst

234.  Gustav Holst (1874-1934).  Egdon Heath. Autograph manuscript, August, 1927. Gabe M. Wiener Music & Arts Library, Deposit to RBML

The music of "Egdon Heath," inspired by Thomas Hardy's The Return of the Native, is elusive and unpredictable. Its three main elements are set out at the beginning-a pulseless wandering melody, first for double basses and then all the strings, a sad brass processional and restless music for strings and oboe. All three intertwine and transmute, eventually coming to rest with music of desolation, out of which emerges a ghostly dance, the strangest moment in a strange work. After this comes a resolution of sorts, and the ending, though hardly conclusive, gives the impression of an immense journey achieved, even though "Egdon Heath" lasts no more than 12 minutes.

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