Anton Stepanovich Arenskii

Arenskii, Anton Stepanovich


(also Antonii). Born June 30 (July 12), 1861, in Novgorod; died Feb. 12(25), 1906, near Terioki, now Zelenogorsk, Leningrad Oblast. Russian composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher.

In 1882, Arenskii graduated from the St. Petersburg Conservatory, where he studied under N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov. He became a teacher at the Moscow Conservatory, where he was a professor beginning in 1889. He performed as a pianist and conductor in Russia and abroad. From 1888 to 1895 he conducted concerts of the Russian Choral Society (Moscow). Between 1895 and 1901 he was manager of the Imperial Court Choir.

In his work Arenskii tended to use lyrical, elegiac, and contemplative images. Russian folk songs were dear to him. Arenskii’s compositions are distinguished by sincerity, simplicity of expression, technique, grace, and fineness of texture. His best works are vocal and instrumental chamber music (the romances “The Broken Vase,” with lyrics by A. N. Apukhtin; “Don’t Light the Fire,” with lyrics by D. M. Ratgauz; “Autumn,” with lyrics by T. L. Shchepkina-Kupernik; and others, as well as piano miniatures and a piano trio dedicated to K. Iu. Davydov). Arenskii composed suites for two pianos, the operas A Dream on the Volga (based on the play by A. N. Ostrovskii and performed in 1890 at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow), Raphael (performed in 1894 in Moscow), Nal’ and Damaianti (performed in 1904 at the Bolshoi Theater), the ballet A Night in Egypt (The Egyptian Nights, performed in 1908 in Paris), two symphonies, a fantasy on a theme from I. T. Riabinin for piano and orchestra, and other works. He also wrote a textbook on harmony and a manual for the study of musical forms. Among Arenskii’s students were S. V. Rachmaninoff, G. E. Konius, A. N. Koreshchenko, and R. M. Glière.


Tsipin, G. Arenskii. Moscow, 1966.