"Silly me - my speakers weren't all the way up. Starts over." John Jackson

"Silly me - my speakers weren't all the way up. Starts over." John Jackson

There’s nothing quite so epic as “Mars, the Bringer of War.”

While we know that Holst came to hate The Planets for being so popular, we all know that we just can’t help ourselves when it comes to “Mars”. As one YouTube commenter said, “This Influenced about… Everything in the sci-fi music genre.”* And it’s true. The following are comments, taken directly from the video above, illustrating the influence of "Mars" (interspersed with a few random facts about Holst).

“The most brutal, metal, classical song ever written.” HeathenMetalhead221

Random Fact #1: Papa Holst wanted Gustav to play the piano and organ, and really, Gustav did do that, but he was never performance caliber. Holst had neuritis in his right arm which caused him constant pain. He picked up the trombone to help his asthma instead.

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“...it seems Zimmer took some creative assistance from this beautiful body of work…,” lovewhisper68

(This one might be tricky to hear. There's speaking over the top. But, especially at the beginning, the melody of "Mars" is here, but in a different rhythm.) [There's echoes of Pirates of the Caribbean in there too, but that's another post for another day.]

Random Fact #2: Two of Holst’s other works that gained huge followings were St. Paul’s Suite--composed for the opening of a new wing at the St. Paul’s Girls School--and Brook Green Suite--a song based on one of the places he lived. Holst was a huge advocate for female music education.


“‘Attack of the Airships’ from the Super Mario Galaxy game soundtrack totally sounds like...” Lucy Deetz

Random Fact #3: Gustav Holst was what we today would lovingly term an introvert. Part of the reason that he hated the popularity of The Planets was because he hated the fame. He just wanted to compose and teach, not deal with crowds and people.


One note here. The person nominated for the most academy awards is not an actor or a director. It’s a composer. John Williams, specifically. When George Lucas asked John Williams to compose the soundtrack for the Star Wars movies, he gave him several classical pieces that he was using as filler*. The Planets was one of them. And so, in probably the most well known spin off of "Mars"...

“John Williams: can i copy your homework?

Gustav Holst: yeah but change a few things so it's not obvious


John Williams: ok” Eric Dean

Come hear The Timpanogos Symphony Orchestra on September 27th and 28th. We are playing The Planets and The Star Wars Suite. You can hear how John Williams based his whole soundtrack on The Planets.

This is a bonus piece that we are playing at our concert: Avatar. You’ll hear echoes of Mars in the piece when war starts.

*More on Star Wars next post! George Lucas lurved his classical music!

Elvis, Buzz Lightyear, College Football, and Strauss

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Elvis, Buzz Lightyear, College Football, and Strauss

In 1968, Stanley Kubrick released 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s a weird movie, really. But there was this music. Epic. Thunderous. Music that makes you want to stand up and conquer! You know the music. But do you know where it came from and just how wildly popular it is? Have a listen.

“Sunrise” is the first minute and a half in a 30 minute tone poem called Also Sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spake Zarathustra) by Richard Struass. What’s a tone poem? A piece of music that describes something. Who is Richard Strauss? A German composer born in 1864 that has a unique story. He started composing when he was six. Six! His work bridged two classical music eras; the Romantic and the Modern. He was definitely the rock star of his time, but a controversial one. He died in 1949.

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Richard Strauss wrote Also Sprach Zarathustra in the late 1890s, relatively early in his career. It was based on the book of the same name by Frederich Nietzsche. (I have no idea how to say that without sounding 100% ‘Murican.) His work was lush and complicated*. He really was a bit of a drama king in his compositions, from large, full-orchestra, grandiose moments to just three or four instruments playing softly.

Strauss lived in Germany through both world wars. Hitler admired the work of Strauss and pressed Strauss into working for him (as in, he nominated him for a position without Strauss even knowing). Strauss accepted the appointment to save his Jewish daughter-in-law and grandchildren, but it was a tenuous relationship at best.

Joseph Goebbels, second only to Hitler in nastiness, said of Strauss, “Unfortunately we still need him, but one day we shall have our own music and then we shall have no further need of this decadent neurotic.” The feeling was mutual. After the war was over Strauss said, “The most terrible period of human history is at an end, the twelve year reign of bestiality, ignorance and anti-culture under the greatest criminals, during which Germany's 2000 years of cultural evolution met its doom.”

These two men have attained immortality (or infamy). I like Strauss’s version of immortality better.

“Sunrise” is used three times in Kubrick's movie. You can find the opening scene here. This is the scene from the middle of the movie. Strauss gets going at about 6:15.

Like I said, weird movie. But because of it, Strauss’s song went from relative obscurity to instant fame. It’s probably more well known than the movie is. (Also, did you listen through the whole thing? That really strange sounding music when the monolith appears? Don’t forget that.**)

“But,” I can hear you saying, “That was 1968? It’s 2019. There’s no way that song has lasted this long?”

Rock n' Roll: Elvis, in the late 1970’s, used it to open his shows.

Pro Wrestling: In the the late 80’s Ric Flair used it for his entrance video for about 5 years.

Hello, World!

TV: Many of the uses of Also Sprach Zarathustra are parodying 2001: A Space Odyssey. This clip is from 1991 from the beginning of a Simpsons episode titled “2001: The Homer Odyssey”.

Disney: Pixar joined the party in Toy Story 2 (1999). Strauss shows up within the first four minutes of the movie. Pixar must have loved the song. They used it again in Wall-E with a computer that looks suspiciously like HAL.

Live Action Movies: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) If you watch closely, you can see the movie playing on the TV in the background. If Charlie and the Chocolate Factory isn't your thing, you can try Zoolander instead.

Commercials:

Video Games:

College Football:

Today: Phish used their version of Also Sprach Zarathustra to open their concert on September 1, 2019. The song was released in the mid 90's, but the concertgoers still love it!

The Timpanogos Symphony Orchestra is playing the Strauss at our September concert. And a little bit of Atmospheres (see below). Come hear these songs in person on September 27 and 28. Click here for more information.

*We played Also Sprach Zarathustra two years ago. There were times where the 16 second violins were playing 16 different parts! Maybe Strauss was neurotic.

**Remember the weird monolith music? Kubrick also used songs by a composer by the name of Gyorgy Ligeti. Ligeti wrote crazy atonal stuff. That strange, otherworldly sounding music when the monolith appears is from Ligeti’s Requiem. He also wrote a piece called “Atmospheres” that Kubrick liked so much he used the whole thing in the film. Ligeti didn’t like that at all, because Kubrick didn’t get permission from him to use it. He actually sued Kubrick for using it. They settled out of court, but Kubrick happily paid the settlement. They ended up working together on two other films.

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Have You Ever Wondered Why We Celebrate With Carols?

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Have You Ever Wondered Why We Celebrate With Carols?

By tradition, St. Francis of Assisi staged the first live nativity scene in Italy in AD 1223. He wanted his parishioners to witness the humility, poverty, and simplicity that the Christ Child knew on earth–not just the solemnity of the masses at the parish church in nearby Greccio

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It's Halloween-Time to Face My Fears!

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It's Halloween-Time to Face My Fears!

What's your worst nightmare?

What scares you to death leaving you in tears at the very thought of it?

I've had to face one of my greatest fears this week in preparation for the TSO Halloween Concert.

I'm embarrassed to say that I've literally been reduced to tears facing this thing I swore I'd NEVER do.

Click here to find out what has me shakin' in my boots...

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A Host of Heavenly Horns

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A Host of Heavenly Horns

It’s concert week! Yay!

This is a special concert for several reasons. First of all, we’re performing Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony, the “Pathetique.” That’s enough of a headline for me.

Yet, there’s more to be excited about. We’re also playing music by 2 master German composers, Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms. The “Tragically Romantic” story of Schumann and Brahms is also enough of a headline for me personally, I’m fascinated by their story.

Yet, there’s still more to be excited about! We often have guest soloists, but we’ve never had 4 guests soloists who all play the same piece together with the orchestra. That’s pretty rare. Actually, it’s VERY rare.

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Classical Music's Most Tragically Romantic Love Triangle

Classical Music's Most Tragically Romantic Love Triangle

One day in 1853, a young man presented himself at the Schumann’s home. He brought a letter of endorsement from the greatest violinist of the day, Joseph Joachim, who was a dear friend of the Schumann’s. The “young eagle from the North,” as Schumann called him, was none other than the 20-year-old Johannes Brahms.

How the Maestro got me addicted to Tchaikovsky

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How the Maestro got me addicted to Tchaikovsky

When you were a kid, what was your favorite Christmas present? Maybe it was a new bike or a special doll? Perhaps a pair of roller skates or even your own pony?

I remember a few special presents, but one stands out more than any other. Not the Nintendo, not the Bazooka Nerf Gun, not even the new Michael Jackson "Dangerous" album (though that was pretty awesome). 

You'll surely roll your eyes and think, "what a nerd," when I tell you what it was. 

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A Finn a German and a Frenchman walk into a concert hall...

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A Finn a German and a Frenchman walk into a concert hall...

What do Jean Sibelius, Johannes Brahms and Maurice Ravel have in common?

Not much, but they'll each be on our program tomorrow night.

As we make our way through Europe on our Magical Musical Tour, we'll make stops in Finland, France and the Hungarian quarter in Vienna, Austria.

Dr. Luke Howard tells us more about these 3 great composers and their works we'll perform this weekend.

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Exotic classical music inspired by ... Pine Trees?

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Exotic classical music inspired by ... Pine Trees?

Some of the most colorful orchestral music in history was composed in the first few decades of the 20th century. One of the composers who worked during this time along with Stravinsky, Ravel, Debussy, and others, was Ottorino Respighi.

Pines of Rome is the final piece on our program this weekend and a showcase of the TSO's wonderful players. Screaming brass. Whirling woodwinds. Bombastic percussion. Sizzling strings.

And the Finale movement is as colossal as the Coliseum itself. You won't want to miss this one!

Here's a little more about Pines of Rome. Notes by Dr. Luke Howard.

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'Downton Abbey' era composer opens our Season Finale

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'Downton Abbey' era composer opens our Season Finale

Lord Grantham and Lady Mary will, unfortunately, be absent from our concert this weekend.

But one of the composers they surely would have know—had they been actual people and not fictional TV characters—would have been Sir Edward Elgar.

Here's a snippet from our program notes about Elgar and his great Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1, Op. 39. Notes written by Dr. Luke Howard.

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Music Connoisseur Prefers the TSO to Professional NY Orchestras

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Music Connoisseur Prefers the TSO to Professional NY Orchestras

There are only a few days left to take advantage of the low TSO Season Membership. 

After May 15th, the price will rise from $120 to $150.

Your membership gives you 2 tickets for each concert weekend. 

Season ticket holders can attend our special Pre-Concert "Meet the Artists" reception.

VIP seating and you name in the program are a couple extra perks we offer you.

Here's what Paul Gunther, former President of the Bank of American Fork and long time TSO Season Member has to say about the TSO…

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