31 Days of Classical, Day 28: a romp in the solar system

by Emily Reese, Minnesota Public Radio
July 28, 2014

St. Paul, Minn. — Each day throughout July, I'll share with you a piece of classical music. Thirty-one days, thirty-one pieces.

The list is by no means definitive, nor is it necessarily a list of all of my favorite music from the classical world. Every morning, I start my day with music that inspires me in some way, whether I'm inspired by its happiness, its loneliness, the instrumentation, the harmony, the colors, the melody -- each piece is special in some way -- and offers an opportunity to either hear something you've never heard, or hear something new in a piece you've known your whole life.

Gustav Holst, The Planets, Mercury (movement 3

The Planets can easily be considered one of the most influential pieces of the 20th century, for too many reasons to mention at this time. For this post is about the tiniest slice of The Planets, for the tiniest planet, Mercury: The Winged Messenger. A couple things: Holst wrote this from the standpoint of astrology, not astronomy. Also, Pluto wasn't yet a planet (for however short a time that lasted). In any event, I love the way Holst demonstrates the "speed" of Mercury, with all the fast scales passed around the orchestra, a little bit of glockenspiel tossed in there too for lightness, and it's a delightful little romp in the Solar System. If you ever have the opportunity to see a performance of The Planets live, you will not be disappointed. (Unless it's a horrible performance.)

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