Holst, Imogen (1907–1984)

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Holst, Imogen (1907–1984)

English pianist, conductor, and teacher who composed orchestral, chamber, and vocal pieces and wrote extensively about her father as well as other composers. Born Imogen Clare Holst in Richmond, Surrey, England, on April 12, 1907; died at Aldeburgh on March 9, 1984; daughter of Gustav Holst, the renowned composer.

It has been noted that an unusual number of women composers were born in Britain in the early part of the 20th century. Most of them, including Elizabeth Poston, Grace Williams, Elisabeth Lutyens, Elizabeth Maconchy , and Phyllis Tate , first attended the Royal College of Music. Imogen Holst, one of their contemporaries, attended St. Paul's Girls' School where her father Gustav Holst was music master. Though Gustav was eventually appointed to a position at the Royal College of Music, Imogen was admitted to the school on her own merits, when she won a scholarship in composition in 1927. At the Royal College, women such as Imogen Holst felt they were nurtured by mentors like Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughan Williams. Once they left the womb of academe, however, all of them struggled for acceptance. Like many women composers, Imogen Holst pursued a variety of interests in order to earn an income. She taught in several schools and wrote extensively about music, including a biography of her father in 1938. She was a member of the

Royal Music Association and the Society of Women Musicians, an organization founded in 1911 to deal with the problem of invisibility among women composers and performers. Throughout her career, Holst continued to compose. She became interested in folk music and became known for her arrangements of old tunes. Her highly productive decades-long artistic collaboration with the great British composer Benjamin Britten (1913–1976), and her work at Britten's Aldeburgh Festival, played a crucial role in making his music world-renowned.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia

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