Fennelly, Brian, American composer and teacher;b. Kingston, N.Y., Aug. 14, 1937. After attending Union Coll. in Schenectady, N.Y. (B.M.E. in mechanical engineering, 1958; B.A., 1963), he was a student of Mel Powell, Gunther Schuller, and Allen Forte at Yale Univ. (MM, 1965; Ph.D., 1968, with the diss. A Descriptive Notation for Electronic Music}. From 1968 to 1997 he was a prof, of music at N.Y. Univ., where he then became prof, emeritus. In 1975, 1977, and 1980 he received grants from the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund. He held NEA Composer fellowships in 1977, 1979, and 1985. In 1980 he received a Guggenheim fellowship. In 1983 and 1999 he received Koussevitzky Foundation commissions. He was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1997. In his music, Fennelly follows the American traditions set by Sessions and Carter, while often reflecting the influence of jazz and the inspiration of nature. He strives for maximum expressivity and structural rigor, extending from the virtuosic possibilities of a solo instrument to the coloristic potential of the full orch.
ORCH In Wildness is the Preservation of the World, Thoreau fantasy (1975); Thoreau Fantasy No. 2 (1984–85); Concert Piece for Trumpet and Orch. (1976); Quintuplo for Brass Quintet and Orch. (1977–78); Scintilla Prisca for Cello and Orch. (1980); Tropes and Echoes for Clarinet and Orch. (1981); Concerto for Saxophone and Strings (1983–84); fantasy Variations (1984–85); Lunar Halos: Paraselenae (1990); A Thoreau Symphony (1992–97); Reflections/Metamorphoses (1995). CHAMBER: Suite for Double Bass (1963; rev. 1981); Duo for Violin and Piano (1964); For Solo Flute (1964; rev. 1976); 2 Movements for Oboe, Clarinet, Trumpet, and Trombone (1965); Divisions for Violin (1968; rev. 1981); Wind Quintet (1967); Evanescences for Alto Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, and Tape (1969); String Quartet (1971); Tesserae I for Harpsichord (1971), 17 for Cello (1972), III for Viola (1976), TV for Contrabass Trombone (1976), V for Tuba (1980), VI for Trumpet (1976), VII for Clarinet (1979), VIII for Alto Saxophone (1980), and IX for Percussion (1981); Prelude and Elegy for Brass Quintet (1973); Consort I for Trombone Quintet (1976); Empirical Rag for Brass Quintet (1977; also for other instruments); Canzona and Dance for Clarinet, Violin, Viola, Cello, and Piano (1982–83); 3 Intermezzi for Bass Clarinet and Marimba (1983); Triple Play for Violin, Cello, and Piano (1984); Corollary I: Coralita for Horn and Piano (1986), II for Alto Saxophone and Piano (1987–88), and III for Trumpet and Piano (1989); Trio No. 2 for Violin, Cello, and Piano or Harpsichord (1986–87); 3 brass quintets: No. 1 (1987), No. 2, Locking Horns (1993), and No. 3, Velvet and Spice (1999); Reflected Arc for Oboe and Piano (1991); Skyscapes I for Saxophone and String Quartet (1995) and II for Trumpet and String Quartet (1999). KEYBOARD: Piano : 2 sonatas (Seria, 1976; Serena, 1997); Paraphrasis (1991). VOCAL: Songs with Improvisation for Mezzo-soprano, Clarinet, and Piano (1964; rev. 1969); Psalm XIII for Chorus and Brass (1965); Festive Psalm for Chorus, Narrator, Organ, and Tape (1972); Praise Yah! for Chorus and Organ (1974); Winterkill for Chorus and Piano (1981); 2 Poems of Shelley for Chorus (1982); Keats on Love for Chorus and Piano (1989); Proud Music for Chorus, Organ, 2 Trumpets, and 2 Trombones (1994); Soon Shall the Winter’s Foil for Chorus (1994). ELECTRONIC : SUNYATA (1970).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire