This week marks the completion of the Holst Project catalogue and its launch on the Britten-Pears Foundation website With over 8,000 individual catalogue records and numerous digital images, including the comprehensive set of Gustav Holst’s 338 letters, Imogen Holst’s 86 letters to various correspondents, and many of Imogen’s CEMA reports, and article and lecture notes, the Holst Project has reached its successful conclusion.

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[All images Copyright: Holst Foundation]

The most recent progress on the project is the addition to the catalogue of Imogen Holst’s extensive collection of photographs, ordered by decade or, where appropriate, according to list references assigned by Imogen. Particularly intriguing are the photographs catalogued under Imogen’s ‘C’ list, a list of photographs of Imogen herself, documenting her childhood and early adult years, from 1907 to 1934, a selection of which appear in the slideshow above. Many of these images are family snapshots of holidays, social gatherings, and day to day family life, and have been attached to the online catalogue for researchers to view. Our dedicated volunteers have worked tirelessly over the past few months to list the photographs and enable their inclusion on the final catalogue.

But the work of our volunteers does not stop there, and over the past twelve months, the project has benefitted from a total of approximately 350 hours of volunteer work, undertaking tasks ranging from basic conservation and cleaning, to listing materials, labelling and repackaging, and digitisation. The dedication, commitment and specialist knowledge of our team of volunteers are crucial to the work of the archive, and have proved especially valuable to the Holst Project, with Imogen Holst being within living memory of many of our volunteers, and friend and acquaintance to a few.

It has been a rare privilege to work on the Holst Project for the last year and fulfilling to know that we have achieved our aims on target! It was thrilling and fascinating to have handled correspondence from so many of the most important people in the musical world of the first half of the 20th Century and to realise the central and significant roles played by both Gustav and Imogen Holst . Working on the project in the wonderful surroundings of the Archive and in the company of ever helpful colleagues has been a great pleasure. (Ian Hamilton, Holst Project Volunteer)

For me, the Holst Project has been a compelling and absorbing insight into the lives, music, careers and passions of two notable composers, educators, and musicologists. As my first professional post, the project has presented a breadth and depth of materials beyond any I have worked with before, from personal papers, to music manuscripts, to photographs, recordings and company papers, the variety has been unrivalled. With a personal interest in music, cultural history, and women’s roles in society, as well as an ongoing fascination with personal papers as a reflection of true character and beliefs, the subjects and materials of the Holst project hold a unique quality. It has been a great pleasure and privilege to gain insight into the lives and minds of Imogen and Gustav, and a continued privilege to extend this knowledge and understanding through the Holst catalogue.

As the project is now complete, this will be the final blog post here, but I hope that you have enjoyed reading and hearing about the progress of the Holst project and all of its captivating themes and subjects.

I will leave you with a signing off quote from one of Imogen’s many letters to her beloved father written in October 1930, which, in her increasingly hasty hand, I think truly sums up her spirit, passion, and  attitude to life:

‘Goodbye:- hope you’re enjoying life as much as I am.’

[Imogen Holst to Gustav Holst, 3 Oct 1930, HOL/1/5/2/23/11]


Project Archivist

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