Saturn in Music

saturn_eclipseMany classical music folks and astronomers know the Saturn movement from The Planets.

Here’s a very obscure astronomy-related piece of music: Saturn by Alan Hovhaness. An abbreviated version is on YouTube here in concert. I see the old Crystal recording is on cd and available–where else?–on Amazon, too.

The concerto’s listed movements:

  • 1. Prelude
  • 2. Titan, Moon of Saturn
  • 3. Orb Mysterious
  • 4. Saturn, Celestial Globe
  • 5. O Lost Note
  • 6. My Hymn
  • 7. Giant Globe
  • 8. Vision of Saturn
  • 9. On Wings of a Soundless Note
  • 10. What is Universe?
  • 11. Intermezzo
  • 12. Harp of Saturn

Hovhaness composed this in 1971. A different feel from Gustav Holst’s astrology-inspired big-forces orchestral version. But the singer, piano, and clarinet give it a feel I think resonates with the sixth planet: cold, lonely, distant, and I think in the future, a place of mystical encounter with God.

If I were composing for an ensemble of musicians, siongers, or both, I think I’d want to explore a bit more than Holst’s “old age” or Hovhaness’s globes. Something like …

Image credit.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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