Known primarily for The Planets, Gustav Holst also composed other music, played the trombone and taught at a girl’s school in London. His father taught him piano at an early age, but a nerve disease cut his career as a pianist short. He went on to attend the Royal College of Music where he studied composition and met fellow student Ralph Vaughn Williams, who became a lifelong friend.
Holst was very interested in Hindu literature and philosophy and even learned Sanskrit so that he could translate passages written in this language himself. This religion influences many of his works.
Because of his jobs as a trombonist and a teacher, Holst did most of his composing in his spare time. The success of The Planets thrust him suddenly into the spotlight, where he was not very comfortable. However, it also insured his financial well-being. Because of illness, Holst gave up teaching in 1925 and was able to spend the next several years writing music. His works include operas, choral music, orchestral pieces and songs.