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First UK performance of re-discovered Holst Manuscripts since 1906

The Holst Victorian House is set to present its annual Holst Birthday Concert at Pittville Pump Room in Cheltenham on September 17, 2022, at 7.30pm.

The first UK performance since 1906 of two works by Cheltenham's most famous son, the composer Gustav Holst, given by the Cheltenham Symphony Orchestra.

The manuscripts, confirmed as written in Holst's own hand, were re-discovered by the Bay of Plenty Symphonia of Tauranga, New Zealand in their library in 2017.

How the manuscripts found their way there is something of a mystery but, following a performance by the Bay of Plenty Symphonia, the orchestra donated the original manuscripts to the Holst Victorian House in 2018.

The last and only performance in the UK of one of the pieces was conducted by Holst himself in Bath in 1906.

The works are entitled Folk Songs from Somerset and Two Songs Without Words and had been missing from the archive of Holst manuscripts for over 100 years.

An exhibition - Hidden in a Drawer: Gustav Holst's Lost Manuscripts - is currently open at the Holst Victorian House, continuing until December 21, where the manuscripts can be viewed and the story of their origins and rediscovery is explained.

The concert on September 17 also includes performances of Symphony No. 5 by Holst's great friend, Ralph Vaughan Williams, celebrating the 150th anniversary of his birth this year, and of Stanford's Irish Rhapsody No. 1.

The Cheltenham Symphony Orchestra is an ensemble of committed and experienced amateur, student and professional musicians, playing under the expert guidance of conductor David Curtis. Tickets can be booked on Cheltenham Town Hall's website.

The Holst Victorian House is grateful to the Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust for their financial support of this event.

John Wright, music trustee at the Holst Victorian House said: "These rediscovered musical gems by Holst are the latest in a series of his early and lesser-known works that have recently been brought to the public's attention, many of them now published for the first time by the local publisher Goodmusic. They are helping to enhance Holst's reputation as a composer of far more than just The Planets."

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