Fanelli, Ernest, French composer; b. Paris, June 29, 1860; d. there, Nov. 24, 1917. He played drums in orchs. as a small boy, and entered the Paris Cons, in 1876, in the class of Delibes. He worked as a copyist and music engraver for many years. In 1912 he applied to Gabriel Pierne for work, submitting the score of his symphonic poem Thebes as a specimen of his handwriting. This score, composed by Fanelli as early as 1883, seemed to anticipate the instrumental and harmonic usages of Debussy and other composers of impressionist music, and Pierne decided to perform it as a curiosity. He conducted it at a Colonne concert in Paris (March 17, 1912), and the novelty created a mild sensation in French musical circles. Other works by Fanelli (Impressions pastorales; L’Effroi du Soleil; Suite rabelaisienne; etc.), all written before 1893, were also found interesting. However, the sensation proved of brief duration, and the extravagant claims for Fanelli’s talent collapsed.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire