Personal Life

Gustav Holst, the esteemed composer renowned for his celestial masterpiece “The Planets,” was not only a musical genius but also a multifaceted individual with a rich and intriguing personal life. Beyond the concert hall, Holst led a fascinating existence shaped by diverse interests, passions, and experiences. In this blog post, we delve into the life and interests of Gustav Holst, shedding light on the man behind the music.

Early Life and Education:

Gustav Holst was born on September 21, 1874, in Cheltenham, England, to a family of musicians. From a young age, he showed a prodigious talent for music, studying piano, violin, and composition under the guidance of his father, Adolph von Holst, himself a respected composer and pianist. Holst’s formative years were influenced by the rich musical traditions of his upbringing, laying the foundation for his future career as a composer and educator.

Spiritual and Philosophical Influences:

Holst’s personal interests extended far beyond the realm of music, encompassing a wide range of spiritual and philosophical pursuits. Throughout his life, he was deeply intrigued by Eastern mysticism, Hindu philosophy, and theosophy, drawing inspiration from the writings of philosophers such as Rabindranath Tagore and the teachings of mystics such as Helena Blavatsky. These spiritual and philosophical influences found expression in Holst’s music, imbuing his compositions with a sense of transcendence and cosmic significance.

Astronomy and Astrology:

One of Holst’s most enduring interests was astronomy and astrology, which played a central role in the composition of his most famous work, “The Planets.” Inspired by the celestial bodies and their astrological symbolism, Holst embarked on a musical exploration of the solar system, crafting a series of orchestral movements that captured the unique character of each planet. His fascination with astronomy and astrology reflected his deep appreciation for the wonders of the universe and his belief in the interconnectedness of all things.

Family and Relationships:

Despite his professional success, Holst’s personal life was marked by challenges and tragedies. He married Isobel Harrison in 1901, with whom he had two children, Imogen and a son who died in infancy. The death of his son deeply affected Holst, contributing to periods of emotional turmoil and introspection throughout his life. Despite these hardships, Holst remained devoted to his family and found solace in the love and support of his wife and daughter.

Interests and Hobbies:

Outside of his musical pursuits, Holst enjoyed a variety of interests and hobbies, ranging from literature and poetry to gardening and hiking. An avid reader and intellect, he immersed himself in the works of writers such as William Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy, and J.R.R. Tolkien, drawing inspiration from their imaginative worlds and profound insights into the human condition. Holst also had a passion for nature and the outdoors, finding inspiration in the beauty of the English countryside and the serenity of the natural world.


In conclusion, Gustav Holst’s personal life and interests offer a fascinating glimpse into the inner workings of a brilliant and complex individual. From his spiritual and philosophical pursuits to his love of astronomy, literature, and nature, Holst’s diverse interests and passions enriched his life and imbued his music with a depth and richness that continue to resonate with audiences today. As we celebrate his contributions to the world of music, let us also remember the man behind the music, whose remarkable life story adds a layer of depth and humanity to his enduring legacy.