Michael Jeffrey Shapiro

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Michael Jeffrey Shapiro
Michael Jeffrey Shapiro
Background information
Birth nameMichael Jeffrey Shapiro
Born (1951-02-01) February 1, 1951 (age 67)
Brooklyn, NY, U.S.
OriginNew York City, New York, United States
GenresClassical music
Occupation(s)Composer, conductor, pianist

Michael Jeffrey Shapiro (born February 1, 1951) is an American composer and conductor.

The son of a Klezmer band clarinetist, Michael Shapiro was born in Brooklyn, New York, and spent most of his high school years in Baldwin, a Long Island suburb, where he was a music student of Consuelo Elsa Clark, William Zurcher, and Rudolf Bosakowski. The winner of several piano competitions during his youth, he earned his B.A. at Columbia College, Columbia University, where he majored in English literature and concentrated in music, benefiting most—according to his own assessment—from some of the department’s stellar musicology faculty, which, at that time, included such international luminaries as Paul Henry Lang, Denis Stevens, Joel Newman, and others. He studied conducting independently with Carl Bamberger at the Mannes College of Music in New York and later with Harold Farberman at Bard College. At The Juilliard School, where he earned his master's degree, he studied solfège and score reading with the renowned Mme. Renée Longy—known to generations of Juilliard students as “the infamous madame of dictation” for her rigorous demands and classic pedagogic methods—and composition with Vincent Persichetti. His most influential composition teacher, however, was Elie Siegmeister, with whom he studied privately.

Shapiro is Laureate Conductor of the Chappaqua Orchestra in New York’s Westchester County, which he conducted for the world premiere of his score for the classic 1931 film Frankenstein (directed by James Whale and starring Boris Karloff) (which has since its premiere received over forty productions internationally) as well as for the world premiere of his own orchestral work, Roller Coaster, which received its West Coast premiere under the baton of Marin Alsop in 2010 at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music while Shapiro was a composer in residence. He served for two years as the music consultant to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., where he produced and performed music by a number of composers who were either murdered by the Germans and their collaborators or had survived as refugees from the Third Reich. He has also been the assistant conductor at the Zurich Opera Studio.

Shapiro’s works, which span across all media, have been performed throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe, with broadcasts of premieres on National Public Radio, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and WCBS-TV. His music has been characterized in a New York Times review as “possessing a rare melodic gift.” His oeuvre includes more than one hundred works for solo voice, piano, chamber ensembles, chorus, orchestra, as well as for opera, film, and television.

Shapiro has received awards and grants from Martha Baird Rockefeller Composer’s Assistance, Meet the Composer, the Henry Evans Traveling Fellowship of Columbia University, and the Boris Koutzen Memorial Fund. He has also received the Columbian Award and the Sigma Alpha Iota Composers Competition prize. He is the author of Jewish Pride and of The Jewish 100, which has been published in British, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Bulgarian, Polish, and Romanian editions—in addition to its original American release.

Shapiro has collaborated with such artists as Teresa Stratas, Jose Ferrer, Janos Starker, Sir Malcolm Arnold, John Corigliano, Marin Alsop, Paul Shaffer, Sergiu Comissiona, Jerry Junkin, Eugene Drucker, Kim Cattrall, Tim Fain, Gottfried Wagner, Alexis Cole, Edward Arron, Jerome Rose, Mariko Anraku, Steven Beck, Elliott Forrest, John Fullam, Jose Ramos Santana, Clamma Dale, Anita Darian, Florence Levitt, Nina Berman, Kikuei Ikeda, Ayako Yoshida, Harris Poor, John Edward Niles, David Leibowitz, Robert Tomaro, Kathryn Amyotte, James Allen Anderson, Sarah McKoin, Albert Nguyen, Kenneth Collins, Jeffery Meyer, Alexandra Guerin, Christopher Lee Morehouse, Glen Hemberger, Anthony LaGruth, Matthew Thomas Troy, and Emily Wong, and organizations such as the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra, Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Charleston Symphony Orchestra, United States Navy Band,West Point Band's The Jazz Knights, Dallas Wind Symphony, Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Traverse Symphony Orchestra, New York Repertory Orchestra, Beloit-Janesville Symphony, Dragefjetts Musikkorps, Royal Canadian Air Force Band, Garden State Philharmonic, Opera Theatre of Northern Virginia, Piedmont Wind Symphony, Westchester Concert Singers, International Opera Center at the Zurich Opera, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, American Jewish Committee, Hawthorne String Quartet, Locrian Chamber Ensemble, Amernet String Quartet, Artemis, Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, Bergen International Festival, and Dateline NBC, and universities in New York, Louisiana, Ohio, Delaware, Florida, Texas, Nebraska, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Arizona, and Tennessee.

Selected works[edit]

  • He has written in every form including operas, symphonies, concerti, chamber music for various combinations, choral music, solo piano works, and six song cycles.


  • The Love of Don Perlimplin and Belisa in the Garden, libretto by Michael Shapiro based on the play by Federico García Lorca - a one-act opera written in 1984 and premiered by the Opera Theatre of Northern Virginia, John Edward Niles, conductor, Darko Tresnjak, stage director.

Film scores[edit]


  • Symphony - Pomes Penyeach based on the poems of James Joyce
  • Second Symphony, recorded by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra


  • A Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 for narrator and orchestra, premiered by Jose Ferrer, narrator, during the Bicentennial
  • Lyric Variations for chamber orchestra
  • like the roaring sea for orchestra
  • Frankenstein-The Overture
  • Frankenstein-The Movie Score (two orchestral versions - chamber ensemble (15 players) and full orchestra)
  • The Headless Horseman for narrator and orchestra
  • Perlimplinito, Opera Sweet, a lace paper valentine for orchestra
  • Widorama!" for orchestra
  • Roller Coaster for orchestra
  • The Babbling Orchestra for narrator and orchestra


  • Roller Coaster for band
  • Widorama! for band
  • Frankenstein-The Overture for wind ensemble
  • Frankenstein-The Movie Score for wind ensemble
  • Bamboula for band
  • A Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 for narrator and band
  • Ol' Mississippi Sings the Blues for band


  • Sinfonia Concertante for violin, violoncello and orchestra
  • Concerto for guitar and strings
  • Concerto for harp and strings
  • Archangel Concerto for piano and orchestra


  • String Quartet (Yiddish)
  • Piano Quintet
  • Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano
  • Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano
  • Sonata for Clarinet and Piano
  • Sextet for Piano and Winds
  • Shir for Flute and Piano
  • Yiddishkeit for Clarinet and Piano (alt. Violin and Piano or Cello and Piano)
  • Musical Chairs for brass quintet (French Horn, two trumpets, trombone, and tuba)
  • American Realists for Clarinet, Violin, Cello, and Piano
  • Watching the Students Grow for two Flutes and Piano


  • Eliahu Hanavi Variations - for solo violoncello
  • Peace Variations- for solo violin
  • Kaddish-Berakhot-Nigun - for solo flute


  • Five Preludes
  • Mysteries
  • Sonata No. 1
  • Sonata No. 2
  • Bitter(sweet) Waltzes
  • Passages
    • Creation
    • Hannah
    • Here I Am!
    • A Light


  • Three Psalms (SSAA a capella)
  • Psalm 137 (SATB and organ)
  • Three Shakespeare Madrigals (SATB a capella)
  • There is that in me (Walt Whitman) (SATB and ensemble)
  • Spanish Medieval Lyrics (SSATB a capella)
  • Voices based on Sephardic poetry of the Holocaust (soprano soloist, SATB, and Terezin ensemble)

Song cycles[edit]



  • ASCAP Biographical Dictionary, R. Bowker LLC (January 1981) ISBN 0-8352-1283-1

External links[edit]