29th September 1918. Music of the Spheres.

Jupiter features in two great musical works: in the popular movement of Gustave Holst’s Planets’ Suite, and Mozart’s Symphony 41 is also known as the ‘Jupiter’. Both are in the key of C Major.

Holst’s Suite was begun in 1914 and completed in 1916. Two years later Today in 1918, the Queen’s Hall, London saw its premier conducted by Adrian Boult before an invited audience of 250 people.(1)

The first complete public performance wasn’t to take place until November 1920 in London by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Albert Coates.

After the tumultuous, Mars ‘the Bringer of War’, one of the more popular Movements, Jupiter is possibly owing to its being in the key of C Major chords, which imparts something bright and upbeat for, ‘Jupiter the Bringer of Jollity’.

It opens with a large horn opening and rocketing scales in the upper woodwind, and brass fanfare. Then it moves to the gorgeous ballad section in the middle (andante maestoso-walking majestically).

Finally we hear the brass to upper woodwinds in the transition, at the coda (concluding passage). By comparison the following ‘planets’ are more reflective and mysterious.

Though Jupiter is the fourth movement, it was completed as the third in the eight movements.

Notation for C Major.

Notation for C Major.

The simplest Scale is C, so C Major uses just the natural notes-or white keys- on a piano, having no sharps or flats, as opposed to the Chromatic Scale which plays all.(2)

The first note in a Scale is the Tonic (Tonal Centre) so in C Major the Tonic is C, and other notes will revolve around that note to home in on.

By analogy the solar system relies on the sun for gravity pull, which is how notes rely on key or tonal centre. Anything which doesn’t do this is ‘Atonal’, adrift in the universe!

Some of the most popular music in the classical repertoire in in C Major: Schubert’s ‘Great’ C Major No.9 Symphony; Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 and his piano concerto No.21.

If you haven’t heard these works hear them before you die!

(1a) Alfred Kalisch writing in the Musical Times January 1st 1920, said ‘there has been a great number of new native works only to be expected, with many young people holding back their debut till peace’ He finished ‘In any event it is a notable work’. How right he was!

(1b) First complete performance was played on 15th November 1920.

(2a) The Major Scale (Ionian) is one of the diatonic (progressive) scales with seven distinct notes plus an eighth which duplicates the first, an octave higher.

(2b) An octave is the interval between one musical pitch and another with half or double its sound frequency.

Ref: chord wizard software.

Ref: howmusicworks.org.

Ref: dolmetsch.com/musical symbols.

Ref: Jstor.org/discover The Musical Times January 1st 1920.

NB tonic first note of a scale


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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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