Holst The Planets | Explore Jupiter

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Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity - “an abundance of life and vitality”

This piece sounds celebratory and climactic, but Holst actually placed it halfway through the suite. The big tune in the middle was turned into the popular patriotic hymn "I vow to thee my country" and, much later, the song "World in Union", which has been the theme of the Rugby World Cup since 1991.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Jolly Jupiter

  • Jupiter is the largest and oldest planet in the solar system, born about 4.5 billion years ago.
  • It is the fifth planet from the sun and is another gas giant. It is made mainly of hydrogen with a quarter helium and has at least 69 moons.
  • Jupiter is named after the Roman king of the gods.
  • Jupiter is so big that it could easily swallow all of the other planets (or more than 1,300 Earths). It also weighs more than twice as much as all the other planets.
  • Despite its huge size, Jupiter is the fastest-spinning planet, rotating once in less than 10 hours.
  • Jupiter is five times as far from the Sun as the Earth is, so its surface temperature is low, around -145°C. Every 13 months or so it comes closer to us and becomes very bright in the night sky.
  • Jupiter is a giant ball of gas, with no solid surface. It is mainly made of the very light gases, hydrogen and helium. Telescopes show a cloudy atmosphere with colourful belts and spots.
  • The largest feature – called the Great Red Spot – is a giant storm, several times the size of the Earth. It has been blowing non-stop for more than 300 years.
  • Jupiter has a faint ring of dust, over 100,000 km wide, that was discovered by the Voyager spacecraft. It is also orbited by the largest family of satellites (63 at the latest count).
  • Four of these satellites, discovered by the Italian scientist Galileo in 1610, are very big. It has hundreds of volcanoes that cover its surface with yellow-orange sulphur. Europa has a smooth, icy surface that looks like a cracked egg shell. Ganymede has light and dark patches with grooves and craters. Callisto has an ancient, cratered surface.

Ideas for classroom activities

Holst reused the big tune from Jupiter as a hymn tune he called "Thaxted", named after a village where he lived for many years. It sets words by Cecil Spring-Rice.

I vow to thee my country https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvouc8Qs_MI

The same tune also became the song "World in Union", the theme for the Rugby World Cup with words by Charlie Skarbek.

World in Union sung by Kiri Te Kanawa https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQS3kzgLYkg

There’s even a version in Japanese by Ayaka Hirahara which was a big hit in Japan in 2004.

Jupiter by Ayaka Hirahara https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eH9fCps9SFs

Why not take a fragment from one of Holst's Planets to create some new music of your own? It could just be a rhythm or a few notes or you could write words for a whole section.

You could create a whole piece for Earth, the only planet that Holst didn’t write a piece for. If you need an extra incentive, the BBC is launching the Ten Pieces Earth Mission.

Earth is the only planet not to be named after a Greek or Roman god. What would have been a suitable alternative name from mythology?

What characteristics does Earth have, seen from far away or close-up?

What sort of music would reflect that?

Looking for more? There's lots more to explore here.

You have completed your musical solar system journey! Skip back to MarsSaturn or Uranus.