Michael Jeffrey Shapiro

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Michael Jeffrey Shapiro
Michael Jeffrey Shapiro
Background information
Birth name Michael Jeffrey Shapiro
Born (1951-02-01) February 1, 1951 (age 64)
Brooklyn, NY, U.S.
Origin New York City, New York, United States
Genres Classical music
Occupation(s) Composer, conductor, pianist
Website www.michaelshapiro.com
Notable instruments

Michael Jeffrey Shapiro (born February 1, 1951) is a noted 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. 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.

Since 2002 Shapiro has been the music director and 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 twenty productions nationally) 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 in the aggregate address nearly every medium, have been performed widely throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe—with broadcasts of premieres on National Public Radio, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Israel Broadcasting Authority, Sender Freies Berlin, WQXR, 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, Marin Alsop, Sergiu Comissiona, Eugene Drucker, Kim Cattrall, Tim Fain, Gottfried Wagner, Alexis Cole, Edward Arron, Jerome Rose, Mariko Anraku, John Fullam, Jose Ramos Santana, Clamma Dale, Anita Darian, Florence Levitt, Kikuei Ikeda, Ayako Yoshida, Harris Poor, John Edward Niles, David Leibowitz, Robert Tomaro, Kathryn Amyotte, James Allen Anderson, Glen Hemberger, Anthony LaGruth, and Emily Wong, and organizations such as the Houston Symphony Orchestra, Virginia Symphony Orchestra, West Point Band's The Jazz Knights, Dallas Wind Symphony, Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Traverse Symphony Orchestra, New York Repertory Orchestra, Rock River Symphony, Garden State Philharmonic, Opera Theatre of Northern Virginia, 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, and Dateline NBC, and universities in New York, Louisiana, Ohio, Delaware, Florida, 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 Garcia 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]



  • 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


  • Roller Coaster for band
  • Widorama! for band
  • Frankenstein-The Movie Score for wind ensemble


  • 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
  • Songs of the Jewish Ghetto for Cello and Piano (alt. Violin and Piano)
  • Musical Chairs for brass quintet (French Horn, two trumpets, trombone, and tuba)


  • 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
  • Sections
    • Hineni!
    • Hannah


  • Three Psalms
  • Psalm 137
  • Ani Maamin
  • Three Shakespeare Madrigals
  • There is that in me (Whitman)
  • Spanish Medieval Lyrics

Song cycles[edit]



External links[edit]