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Gustav Holst: The Inventor of Modern Sci-Fi Music

Star Trek, Star Wars, you name it, chances are the sound track is inspired by Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” written between 1914 and 1916.

Here’s the first movement: “Mars, the Bringer of War”

Now let’s compare it to the ‘Imperial March’ or ‘Darth Vader’s Theme’ written about 70 years later by John Williams

I can’t find a good example right at the moment, but Star Trek also busts out the jumpy march time signature whenever there’s a red alert or a fight scene with lots of Shatner swings(both hands together raised over head), Vulcan nerve pinches, and judo chops.

Or let’s take Holst’s ‘Venus’ movement

and compare it to John Williams’ Leia’s Theme:

Or any other good female character or peaceful green planet theme we may have heard in sci-fi for that matter.

3 responses to “Gustav Holst: The Inventor of Modern Sci-Fi Music

  1. Jacko June 28, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    Holst’s Planets is great, but it’s important to remember that there are a lot of other late nineteenth and early twentieth century composers who have had an influence on film music. I’m thinking of the likes of Wagner, Bruckner, Respighi, Vaughan Williams and Richard Strauss.

  2. Giovanni Dannato June 28, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Hollywood music is pretty Wagnerian, isn’t it? Especially whenever the heroes are doing something daring and dashing.
    Especially, superheroes.

    The Superman theme sounds a like it could have been a collaboration between Wagner and Strauss. Flight of the Valkyries meets Also Sprach Zarathustra.

    I think it would be difficult to understate Grieg’s or Mussogorsky’s influence on melodies.

    How many spinoffs of ‘Morning mood’ or ‘Night on Bald Mountain'(Bad guy music) have we heard in movies?

  3. Giovanni Dannato June 28, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    And here’s a great instance where Hollywood just used an old original in a beautifully tongue in cheek way.

    Floatingly graceful opera as the Punisher meets the Russian.

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