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Anton Arensky

[uh-ren-skee; Russ. uh-ryen-skyee]
Anton Stepanovich Arensky (Антон Степанович Аренский) (12 July, 186125 February, 1906), was a Russian composer of Romantic classical music, a pianist and a professor of music.


Arensky was born in Novgorod, Russia. He was musically precocious and had composed a number of songs and piano pieces by the age of nine. With his mother and father, he moved to Saint Petersburg in 1879, where he studied composition at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

After graduating from the Saint Petersburg Conservatory in 1882, Arensky became a professor at the Moscow Conservatory. Among his students there were Alexander Scriabin, Sergei Rachmaninoff and Alexander Gretchaninov.

In 1895 Arensky returned to Saint Petersburg as the director of the Imperial Choir, a post for which he had been recommended by Mily Balakirev. Arensky retired from this position in 1901, spending his remaining time as a pianist, conductor, and composer.

Arensky died of tuberculosis in a sanatorium in Perkijarvi, Finland. It is alleged that drinking and gambling undermined his health.


Pyotr Tchaikovsky was the greatest influence on Arensky's musical compositions. Indeed, Rimsky-Korsakov said, "In his youth Arensky did not escape some influence from me; later the influence came from Tchaikovsky. He will quickly be forgotten." The perception that he lacked a distinctive personal style contributed to long-term neglect of his music, though in recent years a large number of his compositions have been recorded. Especially popular are the orchestral Variations on a Theme of Tchaikovsky based on one of Tchaikovsky's Songs for Children, Op. 54.

Arensky was perhaps at his best in chamber music, in which he wrote two string quartets, two piano trios, and a piano quintet.

Selected Works



  • Ночь в Египте, or Египетские ночи (Noch v Egipte, or Egipetskiye nochi / Egyptian Nights), opus 50 (1900), also orchestral suite


  • Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in F minor, opus 2 (1881)
  • Symphony No. 1 in B minor, opus 4 (1883)
  • Intermezzo in G minor, opus 13 (1882)
  • Symphony No. 2 in A major, opus 22 (1889)
  • Variations on a Theme of Tchaikovsky, opus 35a, for string orchestra (1894)
  • Fantasia on Themes of Ryabinin, opus 48, for piano and orchestra (1899), also known as Fantasia on Russian Folksongs
  • Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in A minor, opus 54 (1891)


  • String Quartet No. 1 in G major, opus 11
  • Serenade, opus 30 no. 2, for violin and piano
  • Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, opus 32 (1894)
  • String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, opus 35 (1894), for violin, viola and two cellos
  • Piano Quintet in D major, opus 51
  • Four Pieces, opus 56, for cello and piano
  • Piano Trio No. 2 in F minor, opus 73 (1905)


(for solo piano unless otherwise specified)

  • Suite for Two Pianos No. 1 in F major, opus 15
  • Suite for Two Pianos No. 2, opus 23, "Silhouettes" (1892), also orchestral version
  • Impromptu No. 1, opus 25
  • Suite for Two Pianos No. 3 in C major, opus 33, "Variations", also orchestral version
  • Four Etudes, opus 41
  • Suite for Two Pianos No. 4, opus 62
  • Twelve Preludes, opus 63


  • Cantata for the Tenth Anniversary of the Sacred Coronation of Their Imperial Highnesses, opus 25 (1893)
  • The Fountain of Bakhchisarai, opus 46, cantata
  • The Diver, opus 61, cantata

Solo Vocal

  • Three Vocal Quartets, opus 57, with cello accompaniment

External links

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