A Time for Heroes – Master Series 6
Holst wrote the terrifying first movement of The Planets in 1914, as Europe stood on the brink of war. ‘Mars’ rolls over the landscape like a tank – who can stand against it?
In 1944, as World War II dragged on, a Shakespeare film adaptation was commissioned from Laurence Olivier to boost British morale. Olivier’s portrayal of an idealised Henry V – inspiring outnumbered troops and leading them to victory – was enhanced by a magnificent orchestral soundtrack from William Walton.
But all heroes are flawed. Beethoven wrote his Third Symphony as a tribute to Napoleon – until Napoleon proclaimed himself emperor, whereupon Beethoven scrubbed out the title page in disgust. He dedicated his heroic, victorious symphony “to the memory of a great man”.