Anton Stepanovich Arenski (1861-1906) was a Russian composer. He grew up in a wealthy, music-loving family. After studying at the Russian Music School in St. Petersburg he began studying composition (with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov) as well as counterpoint and fugue at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. In 1882 he successfully completed his studies and was appointed composition teacher at the Moscow Conservatory the following year. In 1889 he was named professor there. In this capacity he trained many students who later became famous composers, including Sergei Rachmaninoff. In the mid-1880s he suffered from mental illness (due not least to an unhappy marriage). In 1895 he retired from all his posts and began directing the imperial court choir in St. Petersburg, a position he held until 1901. Afterwards he freelanced but despite this received a good pension. His last years were, however, overshadowed by tuberculosis, which finally killed him, and by alcoholism and excessive gambling.
Arenski never developed his own personal style; his compositions were first influenced by his teacher Rimsky-Korsakov and later by Peter Ilyich Tschaikovsky. The influence of Frédéric Chopin and Robert Schumann is also recognizable, so that although his compositions often use Russian folk melodies, they do not sound particularly "Russian" in comparision with his contemporaries Alexander Glazunov and Vassily Kalinnikov. In general, he avoided drama and strong conflicts and gave lyricism an important role. Sometimes his works, especially those for the piano, approached salon music; he was also often criticized as an eclecticist. All these things led Rimsky-Korsakov to prophesy his oblivion. However, many of his compositions demonstrate such high quality that they are worth a closer look.