Zanella, (Castore) Amilcare
- John C.G. Waterhouse
(b Monticelli d’Ongina, Piacenza, Sept 26, 1873; d Pesaro, Jan 9, 1949). Italian composer, conductor and pianist. He studied with Bottesini and others at the Parma Conservatory. In 1890 he first conducted the orchestra of the Teatro Regio di Parma. From 1893 to 1900 he was in South America, at first as substitute conductor in Marino Mancinelli’s opera company, then independently as a pianist. He directed the Parma Conservatory (1903–5) and the Liceo Musicale, Pesaro (1905–40).
Some of Zanella’s earlier pieces were considered adventurous in their day, especially in their rhythmic freedom: the intriguing Due studi op.44 dispense entirely with bar-lines, as do the opening and closing sections of the evocative, Leopardi-inspired Il passero solitario. Moreover his unpublished compositions of the period include some (mostly piano pieces gathered under the general title L’arte del fare il nuovo and described as ‘composizioni burlesche, avveniristiche’) which were deliberately freakish, with nonsense titles paralleling those of Satie. Later he became, on the whole, more staid and conformist – overproductive and often lapsing into a rather prolix academicism, out of touch with contemporary trends. Even the would-be-modish ...