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Colin Matthews talks to the BBC's James Naughtie
"It got closer to Holst than I expected"
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Thursday, 16 March, 2000, 15:41 GMT
Pluto joins Holst's Planets

Holst died four years after Pluto's discovery
A British composer has added Pluto to Gustav Holst's work The Planets - 83 years after the suite was first completed.

Holst, acknowleged as one of the UK's foremost composers of his time, completed his seven-movement suite in 1917.

But the eighth planet, Pluto, was discovered in 1930 - just four years before Holst's death.


I had a few doubts because I think I was laying my head on the block to add something to such a well-known piece

Colin Matthews
Now, on a commission from from Manchester's Halle orchestra, composer Colin Matthews has added Pluto to the musical fold for a performance to be given at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall on 11 May.

"I had a few doubts because I think I was laying my head on the block to add something to such a well-known piece," he said.

"I thought I shouldn't really try to write imitation Holst. I really thought of it as my own piece, although oddly enough as it went on it seemed to get a lot closer to Holst than I expected it to."

The new addition begins "almost subliminally under the end of Neptune" explained Matthews.

Colin Matthews
Colin Matthews: Dedicated piece to Holst's daughter
"The only possible way was to carry on from where Neptune leaves off is not to make a break at all, and so Pluto begins before Neptune has quite faded.

"The movement soon took on an identity of its own, following a path which I seemed to be allowing to proceed as it would.

"In the end, the music disappears, almost as if Neptune had been quietly continuing in the background."

Matthews says he is certain that Holst never thought about adding Pluto to the piece before he died, adding that "he was decidedly ambivalent" about the work's popularity.

He is dedicating the work to Holst's daughter Imogen, who died in 1984.

"I suspect she would have been both amused and dismayed by this venture," he said.

The "new" Planets suite will also be performed as part of the Proms in London in July.

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See also:

07 Oct 99 | Sci/Tech
A planet beyond Pluto
10 Feb 99 | Sci/Tech
Pluto passes Neptune
04 Feb 99 | Sci/Tech
Pluto stays a planet
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