Michael Schelle

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Michael Schelle (pronounced Shelley),[1] born January 22, 1950 in Philadelphia, is a composer of contemporary concert music.[2] He is also a performer, conductor, author, and teacher.


Schelle grew up in Bergen County, in northern New Jersey, where he studied piano and conducting with Walter Schroeder. After receiving a pre-collegiate certificate from the Trinity College of Music in London, he changed direction for a B.A. in theatre and philosophy from Villanova University (PA). During his four years at Villanova, Schelle was the keyboard player in various regional rock bands, and also Composer in Residence for the Villanova Graduate Theatre, scoring productions of Waiting for Godot, Rhinoceros, and other modernist classics directed by Irene Baird and David Rabe.

Returning to music after Villanova, with eyes now opened wide by discovering experimental theatre, the avant garde, and the music of Igor Stravinsky, Béla Bartók, Charles Ives, Frank Zappa, Edgard Varese, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Krzysztof Penderecki and John Cage, Schelle went on to receive graduate composition degrees from the Hartt School of Music (Connecticut) and the University of Minnesota. Schelle studied composition with Arnold Franchetti, Aaron Copland, Paul Fetler, and Dominick Argento.

Far and Wide[edit]

Schelle's music has been performed by over 350 orchestras, symphonic bands and professional chamber ensembles across the US and abroad including the Detroit Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, Louisville Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony, Nashville Symphony, Albany (NY) Symphony, Springfield (Mass) Symphony, Dayton Philharmonic, Honolulu Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Greenwich (CT) Chorus and Orchestra, Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Cleveland Chamber Symphony . . . . also, XTET (Los Angeles), ISIS (Austin, TX), Voices of Change ensemble, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the Urban Quartet (Phoenix) [2], the Eastman New Music Ensemble and many others.

Grants and awards[edit]

Schelle has received composition grants and awards from the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Arts Council, the New England Foundation for the Arts, the Welsh Arts Council (Cardiff), Arts Midwest, the Great Lakes Arts Alliance, the American Pianists Association, the International Percussive Arts Society, the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition (Utah, 1989), the National Band Association (2012 Revelli Composition Prize) and many other organizations.

In 2005/2006, funded by a grant from the American Symphony Orchestra League, Inc. (NYC), Schelle was Composer in Residence for the Albuquerque Youth Symphony organization [5],[dead link] writing a new work for each of the five AYS orchestras. All five works were premiered in May 2006, at Popejoy Hall on the campus of the University of New Mexico.

2007/2008: by way of a generous Individual Artist Grant from the Arts Council of Indianapolis, Schelle enjoyed an extended visit to Japan where he worked with legendary avant garde composer Hifumi Shimoyama (b. 1930) in Tokyo. Schelle also received an ACI grant in 1999/2000.

Guest composer[edit]

In addition to working with many American orchestras, Schelle is a frequent Guest Composer for American universities and schools of music, where he gives master classes on his music and works with young composers and student ensembles. Among many others, he has been featured for guest composer residencies at Arizona State University, Washington State University, California Lutheran University, Sam Houston State University. Carnegie Mellon University, Kent State University, Southern Illinois University, University of Louisiana-Lafayette, Eastern Michigan University, State University of New York, University of Notre Dame, Capital University (OH), University of Massachusetts, Trinity University (TX), University of Wisconsin-Madison and many others. He has also held extended residencies at the Spoleto USA Festival (Charleston, SC), the Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts (Vienna, VA), the MacDowell Colony, and for various prestigious new music festivals across the US and abroad.

From 2009–2013 he served three times as the featured Composer in Residence at both Nagoya Imperial University (Japan) and Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music (Japan).

April 2016: guest composer at the Chopin University of Music (Warsaw, Poland) and the Krakow Academy of Music

Recent works[edit]

  • Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse (2016), for large orchestra
  • O Magma Mysterium (2015) for large symphonic wind ensemble
  • Resilience (2015), for Viola, Cello and Orchestra for the 70th anniversary of the end of WW2
  • Fear Strikes Out (2015), for trombone and wind ensemble
  • The End of Al Capone (2014), mono-opera for voice and large chamber ensemble
  • The Wolves of Parnassus (2014), six mvmts. for chamber ensemble
  • Mystic Mourning (2014), solo violin and chamber ensemble
  • Sun-Wukong (2013) for cello and orchestra, commissioned by the South Shore Orchestra (Chicago) for their 14 day / 8 concert tour of China in January 2014
  • Extraction on No. 9 (2013) for large symphonic wind ensemble), a 2012/13 consortium commission from eight university symphonic bands.
  • Through the Bright Lights of Hell (2013) for new music ensemble vs. chamber orchestra (Hartford Arts Council commission, premiere October 2013)
  • Their House Was Around Here, Somewhere... (2012), for solo piano and chamber ensemble, commissioned by the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra for a March 2013 Symphony Space / New York City concert honoring the victims and survivors of the great Japan earthquake and tsunami of March 2011.
  • The Exorcism of the Sugar Plum Fairy, a 2012 consortium commission from 15 orchestras (including Nashville, Alabama, Detroit, Dayton and Tulsa).
  • The End of the World, a 2011 consortium commission from 35 university symphonic bands for a new work inspired by Nostradamus' doomsday prophecy for "The End of the World" on 12/21/2012, the Mayan Calendar, and the March 2011 earthquake/tsunami disaster in Japan – consortium group includes Eastman, Michigan, Indiana, Texas-Austin, Nebraska, New Mexico, Florida, Minnesota, Kansas State, Arizona State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Missouri, Purdue, Illinois, UNC Greensboro, Louisiana, Virginia Commonwealth, Trinity (TX), Hartt, Ithaca and others. The End of the World was awarded First Prize in the 2012 National Band Association "William D. Revelli Composition Competition"
  • Straight, No Lithium (2010) a 9-movement work for solo piano was a commission from Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music in Nagoya, Japan, and received its premiere there in December 2010. The US premiere was in Summer 2012 at Symphony Space in New York City, Jim Loughery, piano : New York Times review: [6]
  • Rain, a work based on the writing of Vladimir Nabokov was premiered in December 2009 with the Saint Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic in Glinka Hall, Russia, with Julia Kogan, soprano [7]. It was recorded for international commercial release in 2011 on the album Troika, distributed by Harmonia Mundi.[3]



  • Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse (2016)
  • Resilience (2015), viola, cello and orchestra
  • Sun-Wukong (2013)
  • Through the Bright Lights of Hell (2013)
  • The Exorcism of the Sugar Plum Fairy (2012)
  • Guardian (2011), solo violin and orchestra
  • Rain (2009), soprano and orchestra
  • The Beast of Brazil (2005)
  • Ear Infection (2005)
  • Vox Humana (2005)
  • Extraction on No. 8 (2005)
  • Chrysalis (2004)
  • Crashout (2004)
  • Wright Flight (2002), piano concerto
  • Samurai (1999)
  • Spider Baby (1996)
  • Mayday! (1995)
  • Spirits (1993), six biographies for orchestra
  • Jonestown Echo (Rev. Jim Jones), from Spirits
  • Detour to Nowhere (John Dillinger), from Spirits
  • Limberlost (Gene Stratton Porter), from Spirits
  • One for the Gipper (Knute Rockne), from Spirits
  • ben bonhommes rouge (Ezra Pound), from Spirits
  • The Last Ride (James Dean), from Spirits
  • Blast (1992
  • Rapscallion (1990)
  • After the Meridian: Times of Future Passed (1990), for soloists, chorus and orchestra
  • The Big Night (1989)
  • Kidspeace (1987)
  • Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra (1986)
  • Swashbuckler! (1984)
  • Play Us Chastity on Your Violin (1984), for solo violin and chamber orchestra
  • Pygmies II (1983)
  • Pygmies (1982)
  • Masque (1979)
  • El Salon Medico (1977)
  • Lancaster Variations (1976)

Wind Ensemble / Symphonic Band

  • O Magma Mysterium (2016)
  • Fear Strikes Out (2015)
  • Extraction on No. 9 (2013)
  • The End of the World (2011)
  • Prayer (2004)
  • When Hell Freezes Over (1996)
  • Guttersnipe (1994)
  • Contraband (1991)
  • Seven Steps from Hell (1985)
  • Cliffhanger March (1984)
  • King Ubu (1981)

Opera / Choral / Vocal

  • The End of Al Capone (2014), mono-opera for voice and large chamber ensemble
  • Ra-ahmen (2010), SATB and four doublebasses
  • Aesop Rules (1997), 55:00 musical for kids (grades 1–5), tenor sax, keyboards, percussion
  • Pipuff (1992), SATB
  • Struwwelpeter (1991), for tenor and piano (or chamber ensemble)
  • The Great Soap Opera (1988), 90:00 chamber opera
  • Six Seasonal Anthems (1987), SATB, organ
  • Dei Angelus (1987), SATB, organ
  • Caroleluia (1987), SATB
  • Swanwhite (1981), for soprano and piano
  • The Wife Wrapt in Wether's Skin (1977), TTBB


  • The Wolves of Parnassus (2014), for chamber ensemble
  • Mystic Mourning (2014), for solo violin and chamber ensemble
  • Burning Crusaders (2014), for five trumpets and percussion
  • Crusher (2013), for solo guitar w/piano accompaniment
  • Meine Grossmutter Kostbaren Klarinette (2013), for clarinet and piano
  • My Precious Iron Lung (2013), for horn and piano
  • My Precious Iron Cello (2013), for euphonium and piano
  • Aka Sakana (2012), for solo clarinet
  • Their House Was Around Here, Somewhere ... (2012), for piano and chamber ensemble
  • Sprechstisambastimme (2011), for string quartet
  • Red Knuckles (2011), for clarinet and tenor sax
  • Say Goodnight, Gracie (2010), for large chamber ensemble
  • Nagoya Spiral (2009), for any four players and pre-recorded medium
  • Calhoun (2009), for large chamber ensemble
  • The Fall of Susan McClary (2009), for chamber ensemble
  • No Child Left Behind (2007), large chamber ensemble
  • The Viola the Wind Swept Away (2007), for solo viola (or any instrument) and chamber ensemble
  • Heartland (2007), for clarinet, tenor sax, violin, cello, bass, piano and percussion
  • Struwwelpeter (2006), for tenor and piano (1991), for tenor and chamber ensemble (2006)
  • It's Curtains for You, Bub (2005), for large chamber ensemble
  • Prayer (2004), for solo cello with harp and piano
  • Gimme Shelter (2001), for violin and piano
  • Godzilla (1997) for clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor sax, piano, bass, percussion
  • Berlin Archetype (1990) for clarinet, cello, pinao (and off-stage trumpet and tenor)
  • Inizio (1989), for violin and cello
  • Musica Magnetizzare (1988), for five chamber players
  • Howl (1986), for solo clarinet and four chamber players
  • Play Us Chastity on Your Violin (1984), for solo violin and large chamber ensemble
  • Music for the Alabama Kid (1984), for chamber ensemble
  • Music for Two Pianos (1982)
  • Cry Wolf (1981), for cello and 5 percussionists
  • Music for the Last Days of Strindberg (1979), for chamber ensemble
  • Chamber Concerto (1978), for solo violin, flute, cello and piano


  • Aka Sakana (2012), for solo clarinet
  • Straight, No Lithium (2010), nine bipolar preludes for piano
  • Janus: Third Sonata (1998), for piano
  • Subwoofer (1996), for flute
  • Hammerstein (1995), for piano
  • Racing With Rabbits (1988), solo percussionist
  • Rattlesnake (1983), solo percussionist
  • Blue Plate Special (1983), for tuba alone (with aux. percussion)
  • Redbud (1982), for doublebass
  • Second Sonata (1979), for piano


Schelle is Composer in Residence and Founder/Director of the JCFA Composers Orchestra [8] (new music ensemble) at the School of Music, Butler University, Indianapolis, IN, USA.[4] Schelle's daughter, Katie, is an interior designer and architect with Mitchell Studios in New Haven, CT. His son, Patrick, M.S.W. from NYU, is a social worker with Family Services of Westchester in New York City, White Plains and The Bronx.


  1. ^ http://www.schellemusic.com/2.html
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ "Troika: Russia’s westerly poetry in three orchestral song cycles", Rideau Rouge Records, ASIN: B005USB24A, 2011.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-05-28. Retrieved 2010-03-16.

External links[edit]