Calvocoressi was born in Marseille, France of Greek parents. At first, he studied law at the Lycée Janson de Sailly, and then studied music at the Conservatoire de Paris with Xavier Leroux. He became friends with Maurice Ravel. As a talented polyglot, Calvocoressi began a career in 1902 as a music critic and correspondent for several English, American, German and Russian periodicals. He also translated song texts, opera librettos and books from Russian and Hungarian into French and English. His subject of his first book was Liszt, but he was a strong proponent of Mussorgsky and other Russian musicians.
Calvocoressi lectured at the École des Hautes Études Sociales from 1905 to 1914, teaching about contemporary music. At the onset of World War I, the Greek Calvocoressi found himself unable to serve the French cause. He moved to London and served as a cryptographer. He spent the rest of his life in England, was naturalized, married an English citizen, and wrote the remainder of his books in English. Calvocoressi was a member of the Apaches music society. He died in London.
Proponent of Russian music
Calvocoressi's legacy as a music critic and translator was his advocacy of Russian music. He wrote three books on Modest Mussorgsky. He was the French advisor for Sergei Diaghilev as Diaghilev was introducing Russian arts to the French.
- Liszt (Paris, 1905)
- Mussorgsky (Paris, 1908)
- Glinka (Paris, 1911)
- Schumann (Paris, 1912)
- Charles Koechlin (Paris, 1923)
- The Principles and Methods of Musical Criticism (London, 1923)
- Musical Taste and How to Form It (London, 1925)
- Musicians Gallery: Music and Ballet in Paris and London (London, 1933)
- Masters of Russian Music, with G. Abraham (London and New York, 1936)
- Debussy (London, 1944)
- A Survey of Russian Music (Harmondsworth, 1944)
- Mussorgsky (London, 1946), a new extensive biography of Mussorgsky posthumously published.
- Mussorgsky: His Life and Works (London, 1956)
- Gerald Abraham. "Calvocoressi, Michel-Dimitri." In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/04622 (accessed January 31, 2012)
- The Michel-Dmitri Calvocoressi Manuscripts - Special Collections in Performing Arts at the University of Maryland