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“Arensky was born in a music-loving, affluent family 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, after which 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.[1]

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. He retired from this position in 1901, living off a comfortable pension and spending his remaining time as a pianist, conductor, and composer.

Arensky died of tuberculosis in a sanatorium in Perkjärvi, in what was then the Russian-administered Grand Duchy of Finland, at the age of 44. While very little is known about his private life, Rimsky-Korsakov alleges that drinking and gambling undermined his health.[2] He was buried in the Tikhvin Cemetery.

The Antarctic Arensky Glacier was named after him.
Music

Pyotr Ilyich 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 Variations on a Theme of Tchaikovsky for string orchestra, Op. 35a – arranged from the slow movement of Arensky’s 2nd string quartet, and based on one of Tchaikovsky’s Songs for Children, Op. 54.

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

 

Jesus, now be praised at this new year for Your goodness,

revealed to us in all necessity and danger,

that we have reached this new joyful time,

that soars full of grace and eternal blessedness;

that we, in peaceful stillness have completed the old year.

We wish to give ourselves to You now and for ever,

protect body, soul and life from henceforth throughout the whole year!

 

ENGLISH VERSION: Return O Zephyr, and with gentle motion

Make pleasant the air and scatter the grasses in waves

And murmuring among the green branches

Make the flowers in the field dance to your sweet sound;

Crown with a garland the heads of Phylla and Chloris

With notes tempered by love and joy,

 From mountains and valleys high and deep

And sonorous caves that echo in harmony.

The dawn rises eagerly into the heavens and the sun Scatters rays of gold,

and of the purest silver,

Like embroidery on the cerulean mantle of Thetis.

But I, in abandoned forests, am alone.

The ardour of two beautiful eyes is my torment;

As my Fate wills it, now I weep, now I sing.

This is was the closing piece to our Joyful Noise christmas concert.  Fun to learn, challenging to sing.  All good.  :)

 

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