Anton Stepanovich Arensky (Russian: Антон Степанович Аренский) (12 July [O.S. 30 June] 1861 – 25 February [O.S. 12 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 Perkjärvi, 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.
Сон на Волге (Son na Volge / A Dream on the Volga), Op. 16 (1888), libretto by Anton Arensky after Aleksandr Ostrovsky's play Voyevoda, premiere: January 2, 1891 [OS December 21, 1890], Moscow, Bolshoy Theatre
Рафаэль (Rafael / Raphael), Op. 37 (1894), libretto by A. Kryukov, premiere: May 6 [OS April 24], 1894, Moscow, Conservatory
Наль и Дамаянти (Nal' i Damayanti / Nal and Damayanti), Op. 47 (1903), after Indian epos "Mahabharata", libretto by Modest Tchaikovsky after the novel by Vasily Zhukovsky, premiere: January 22, [OS January 9], 1904, Moscow, Bolshoy Theatre)
- Ночь в Египте, or Египетские ночи (Noch v Egipte, or Egipetskiye nochi / Egyptian Nights), Op. 50 (1900), also orchestral suite
- Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in F minor, Op. 2 (1881)
- Symphony No. 1 in B minor, Op. 4 (1883)
- Intermezzo in G minor, Op. 13 (1882)
- Symphony No. 2 in A major, Op. 22 (1889)
- Variations on a Theme of Tchaikovsky, Op. 35a, for string orchestra (1894)
- Fantasia on Themes of Ryabinin, Op. 48, for piano and orchestra (1899), also known as Fantasia on Russian Folksongs
- Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in A minor, Op. 54 (1891)
- String Quartet No. 1 in G major, Op. 11
- Serenade, Op. 30 no. 2, for violin and piano
Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 32 (1894)
- String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 35 (1894), for violin, viola and two cellos
- Piano Quintet in D major, Op. 51
- Four Pieces, Op. 56, for cello and piano
- Piano Trio No. 2 in F minor, Op. 73 (1905)
(for solo piano unless otherwise specified)
- Suite for Two Pianos No. 1 in F major, Op. 15
- Suite for Two Pianos No. 2, Op. 23, "Silhouettes" (1892), also orchestral version
- Impromptu No. 1, Op. 25
- Suite for Two Pianos No. 3 in C major, Op. 33, "Variations", also orchestral version
- Four Etudes, Op. 41
- Suite for Two Pianos No. 4, Op. 62
- Twelve Preludes, Op. 63
- Twelve Pieces for Two Pianos, Op. 66
- Cantata for the Tenth Anniversary of the Sacred Coronation of Their Imperial Highnesses, Op. 25 (1893)
- The Fountain of Bakhchisarai, Op. 46, cantata
- The Diver, Op. 61, cantata
- Three Vocal Quartets, Op. 57, with cello accompaniment