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Resonances of the RajIndia in the English Musical Imagination,1897-1947$
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Nalini Ghuman

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199314898

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199314898.001.0001

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From India to the Planet Mars

From India to the Planet Mars

Gustav Holst

(p.105) Chapter 3 From India to the Planet Mars
Resonances of the Raj

Nalini Ghuman

Oxford University Press

Drawing on new archival sources and in the contexts of Holst’s Indian studies, the music of his contemporaries Bantock and Scott, the burgeoning presence of Indian music in Britain, and the founding of the India Society in 1910, this chapter demonstrates how Holst’s unusual modes have roots in the Karnatic mēlakartas he sought from MacCarthy; his virtuosic harp emulation of the tambura/tānpūra transformed the static ostinato of conventional orientalism; the Vedic chanting he translated shaped his flexible textual rhythm; and how a thrilling Vedanta narrative of sacrifice shapes a seminal hymn. Ultimately, this chapter recontextualizes The Planets through Holst’s earlier ‘Indian’ works, Hymns from the Rig Veda (1907?12) and Sāvitri (1908). It argues that misperception of his style’s Indian constituent was central to his music’s posthumous dismissal. Reintegrating his music into an Indian context enables us to rethink British musical modernism and understand the effects of colonialism on English culture.

Keywords:   Gustav Holst, Granville Bantock, Cyril Scott, Hymns from the Rig Veda, Sāvitri, Karnatic melakartas, Maud MacCarthy, tambura/tānpūra, Orientalism, The Planets

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