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Subject: Classical composer Gustav Holst's trombone scared sheep into lambing early

Written By: Philip Eno on 07/29/09 at 3:36 am

Classical composer Gustav Holst was once ticked off by a Cotswold farmer for playing his trombone too loudly and making his sheep lamb early, researchers have discovered.

Newly found archive material on the composer of The Planets reveals he would often play the trombone as he walked home - all the way from London to Cheltenham, reports the Daily Telegraph.

He was then a music student at the Royal College of Music and too poor to afford the train fare, according to an interview from the 1970s with fellow composer Dr Edmund Rubbra.

In the interview, Dr Rubbra said: "He was very poor when he was a student and he could not afford the rail fare very often from London back to Cheltenham.

"He was learning the trombone at the time and he used to walk from London to Cheltenham with a trombone slung on his back, like a napsack. And he used to practise the trombone in whatever fields he came across he thought were quiet.

"He was practising the trombone on a Cotswold hill for some hours and then an irate farmer came rushing up to him and says, 'You are causing all this trouble with our sheep. They are lambing too soon, with this noise going on'.

"And he was turned off!"

The forgotten video archives, discovered by journalist David Bailey in the Holst Birthplace Museum in Cheltenham, also include interviews with Imogen Holst, the composer's only child, and a distinguished musician in her own right.

She said her father, who died in 1934 aged 59, was a practical man who was forced by financial circumstances to live a "double life" - first combining being a trombonist and then being a teacher with his career as a composer.

Noting there were no alternatives for composers at the turn of the century, like writing music for films, she said: "My father just had to lead what amounted to a double life and that went on all his life."

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