Although most people know Gustav Holst only for a handful of pieces he in fact wrote over 200 catalogued pieces and many others which were either lost or destroyed. Born into a musical family Holst learnt to play the violin and the piano at a very early age and by the time he was twelve had already started to compose. After studying at the Royal College of Music in London with Charles Stanford he became Music Master at St Paul’s Girls’ School and Music Director at Morley College.
The 1903 Wind Quintet is a fluent and tuneful piece from what his daughter called his 'long and painful' apprenticeship. The origins of this work are surrounded in mystery - as is its survival. For many years the whereabouts of the manuscript was unknown but in 1978 it surfaced in the Surrey History Centre. The work was first published in 1983 but in a truncated version; 44 bars were cut from the first movement and 32 from the second.