Born in Droß, Krenn studied under Ignaz von Seyfried in Vienna. He served as organist in a number of Viennese churches and in 1862 became Kapellmeister of the Vienna Hofkirche. His compositions include masses, cantatas, oratorios, requiems, choral and solo songs, works for organ and piano, and symphonies.
From 1869 until 1893 Krenn taught harmony, counterpoint and composition at the Vienna Conservatory; during this time, he appears to have acquired the nickname 'Old Krenn', and is today often described as having been a rather pedantic teacher.
Among Krenn's well-known pupils are:
- Leoš Janáček
- Mathilde Kralik
- Gustav Mahler (who studied with him between 1875 and 1878)
- Richard Robert
- Hans Rott
- Alexander von Zemlinsky.
Krenn died in Sankt Andrä-Wördern.
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