Esposito was born at Castellamare di Stabia, near Sorrento. As a boy he entered a Music Conservatory at Naples as a pianoforte pupil of Beniamino Cesi (1845–1907, himself a favourite pupil of Thalberg), and studied composition there for 8 years under Paolo Serrao (1830–1907, teacher of Francesco Cilea and others). He was a near-contemporary of Giuseppe Martucci, and a few years the senior of Alessandro Longo, both taught by these teachers. In 1878 he went to Paris for several years.
Teacher, pianist and conductor
Esposito became chief pianoforte professor at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in 1882, and remained there for more than forty years, devoting himself to the encouragement of classical music in Dublin. He took control of the Royal Dublin Society chamber-music recitals from their inception, with great success, and gave piano recitals for the Society every year. He established the Dublin Orchestral Society in 1899 and was its conductor until its disbandment in 1914, and he was also the conductor of the Sunday Orchestral Concerts until they were discontinued in 1914. He conducted concerts of the London Symphony Orchestra at Woodbrook[disambiguation needed] in 1913 and 1914, and also performed his piano concerto with them under the baton of Hamilton Harty. He founded the 'C. and E. Edition' of music publishing with Sir Stanley Cochrane. He died in Florence, Italy.
Esposito conducted the Moscow premiere of Modest Mussorgsky's opera Khovanshchina with the Russian Private Opera at the Solodovnikov Theatre on 12 November 1897. He also conducted the world premiere of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's opera-bylina Sadko on 7 January 1898 (O.S. 26 December 1897), presented by the Russian Private Opera at the same venue.
Esposito received awards from the Feis Ceoil for his cantata Deirdre, his Irish Symphony and his string quartet in D. His cello sonata won a prize from the London Incorporated Society of Musicians in 1899. His violin sonata in E minor gained a prize offered by La Société Nouvelle, Paris, in 1907, and his string quartet in C minor won another offered by the Accademia Filarmonica di Bologna.
Vocal with orchestra
Orchestra (incl. concertos)
- Ballades Op. 59; Alla memoria di Vincenzo Bellini Op. 16; 5 excerpts from My Irish Sketch Book op. 71; Preludes 1, 5, 2, 4, 9 from Nove preludi op. 72; Impromptu, Op. 62; Three Pieces, Op. 61; A Village Fête, Op. 64; Nocturne, Valse, Rêverie (from Suite Op. 34, Vol. 2); Remembrance, Op. 63; Visione (from Album Op. 7). Recorded by Míċeál O'Rourke, piano, on: Esposito: Works for Piano, Chandos CHAN 9675 (CD, 1998).
- Though the Last Glimpse of Erin from Two Irish Melodies Op. 39; and Appassionato from Ballades Op. 59 (No. 1). Recorded by Una Hunt, piano, on: Fallen Leaves from an Irish Album, RTÉ lyric fm CD 109 (CD, 2006).
- Violin Sonatas Opp. 32, 46, and 67, and Cello Sonata Op. 43. Recorded by Mia Cooper (violin), William Butt (cello) and Lance Coburn (piano). Champs Hill Records CHRCD 066 (CD, 2013).
- Kees van Hoek: "Michele Esposito. Maestro of Dublin", in: The Irish Monthly 71 (June 1943), pp. 223–30
- G.L. Aiello [= Mario Esposito]: Al musicista Michele Esposito nel primo centenario della nascita (Comune di Castallamare di Stabia, 1955)
- John Bowyer Bell: "Waiting for Mario. The Espositos, Joyce and Beckett", in: Éire-Ireland 30 (1995), pp. 7–26.
- Jeremy Dibble: Michele Esposito (Dublin: Field Day, 2010)