A Musical Geography Lesson

This posting, by Curmudgeon, appeared originally at Die Grosse Blog on February 24, 2015. It is reprinted here with Curmudgeon’s blessing and our thanks.

The music of Russian composer Anton Arensky (1861–1906) has long been eclipsed by that of his teacher Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and at least one of his students, Sergei Rachmaninoff. Rimsky-Korsakov had this to say about him: “In his youth Arensky did not escape some influence from me; later the influence came from Tchaikovsky. He will quickly be forgotten.”

Arensky did however produce one masterpiece (IMHO), the piano trio Opus 32. Its slow third movement, titled Elegie, is on YouTube.

And he gave his name to a glacier in Antarctica! Even more wonderful is the fact (Wikipedia) that the  Arensky Glacier flows south from Beethoven Peninsula (part of Alexander Island) into the north end of Boccherini Inlet.

What’s more, (still Wikipedia) the south side of  Beethoven peninsula is supported by the Bach Ice Shelf, and the Mendelssohn Inlet, the Brahms Inlet, and the Verdi Inlet apparently intrude into it. Not far away are Rossini Point and Berlioz Point.

Mapcarta adds some additional reference points:  the Franck Nunatak is 14 km north of the Arensky Glacier [a nunatak is a geological feature: see google for details], Mount Borodin is 14 km west, Gluck Peak is 17 km southwest, and Mount Liszt is 21 km northeast.

It’s reminiscent of some suburbs whose street names celebrate things like trees or birds. Dundas, Ontario, for example, has a subdivision which includes Robinhood Drive, Little John Road, Sherwood Rise, and Maid Marion Street. In such an instance one understands that a committee has been at work, with members representing local government and the developer/builder.

But how does it work with glaciers and inlets and peaks in Antarctica? The Arensky glacier was named by the USSR Academy of Sciences, but how did Bach and Beethoven and Brahms get in there? And where is Mozart? Is there an International Commission on Antarctic Place Names?

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2 responses to “A Musical Geography Lesson

  1. Morry Kernerman

    Rimsky-Korsakov was decidedly wrong! Arensky will surely be well-remembered, not only for his excellent PianoTrio, but by his beautiful Variations on a Theme by Tchaikovsky. Written as a tribute to Tchaikovsky, it was originally meant to become a movement for a string quartet. Arensky subsequently arranged it for string orchestra and it remains as a frequently heard part of that repertoire.

  2. Michael Gundy

    As we celebrate since the birth of the “Sound of Music”, fifty years ago, this article reminds us that TRULY, “The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music”.