Anton Arensky (1861-1906)
Anton Arensky was born to a musical family—his father was a doctor and amateur cellist, and his mother a pianist. He began to study piano at the age of six, and to compose at nine. Arensky continued his studies at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, where Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov was his primary instructor. Immediately after he graduated cum laude in 1882, he was invited to teach harmony and counterpoint at the Moscow Conservatory. His pupils there included Rachmaninoff, Grechaninov, Skryabin and Glière, and two of his colleagues were Tchaikovsky and Taneyev. In 1895, Arensky replaced Mily Balakirev as the director of the Imperial Chapel in Saint Petersburg. His life became disrupted by addictions to gambling and alcohol after his resignation from that post in 1901. He died of tuberculosis in February of 1906.
Arensky composed two symphonies, several operas, ballets, numerous compositions for solo piano, orchestral works and liturgical compositions. His works include eighty art-songs and duets. They are distinguished by flowing vocal lines and rather emotional, often sentimental, lyricism. His musical language was not particularly original, yet his vocal compositions are very appealing because of their simplicity of expression and honest heartfelt lyricism.