St John's C of E Primary School

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Ostinato: Holst 'Mars the bringer of War' 11.3.24

The Ostinato 

In music, an ostinato comes from the Italian word for stubborn, (a bit like the English word obstinate). It is a motif or phrase that keeps repeating in the music – often on the same instrument and at the same pitch. 


Gustav Holst – Mars the Bringer of War from ‘The Planets’ 

Mars is the first movement of The Planets and it is an intense piece of music. 

The piece is in 5/4 – it is quite unusual for works to be written with 5 beats in a bar, the piece can still make us feel unsteady, particularly with its march-like feel. The 5 beats are emphasised by a repeated figure or ostinato, which begins on one of the timpani, the strings and the two harps.  

Holst: The Planets, 'Mars' - BBC Proms