Michael Jeffrey Shapiro

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

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

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 fifty 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 the novel Getting In, and two non-fiction books about Jewish culture and history, Jewish Pride and 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, Ariadne Greif, 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, Lawrence Golan, Jeffery Meyer, David Kehler, Kevin Suetterlin, Matthias Elmer, Nadya Potemkina, Jeffrey Boeckman, Carter Biggars, Daniel Kocurek, Alexandra Guerin, Christopher Lee Morehouse, Glen Hemberger, Anthony LaGruth, Matthew Thomas Troy, and Emily Wong, and organizations such as the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, 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 Winds, Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Traverse Symphony Orchestra, New York Repertory Orchestra, York Symphony Orchestra, Yakima Symphony Orchestra, Beloit-Janesville Symphony, Dragefjetts Musikkorps, Royal Canadian Air Force Band, St. Petersburg (Russia) Chamber Philharmonic, 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, Georgia, Hawaii, Oregon, California, Connecticut, Colorado, Indiana, and Tennessee.

Selected works

  • 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.
  • Frankenstein-The Movie Opera, soprano, mezzo soprano, tenor, baritone, bass, and chamber orchestra (text the Latin Requiem Mass)

Film scores


  • 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, Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of Westchester, Martin Rich, conductor, during the Bicentennial
  • Lyric Variations for chamber orchestra
  • like the roaring sea for orchestra
  • Frankenstein-The Overture, premiered by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
  • 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, premiered by the BBC National Symphony of Wales
  • Widorama! for orchestra, premiered by the BBC National Symphony of Wales
  • Roller Coaster for orchestra, premiered by the BBC National Symphony of Wales
  • The Babbling Orchestra for narrator and orchestra


  • Roller Coaster for band
  • Widorama! for band, premiered by Jerry Junkin conducting the Dallas Winds
  • Frankenstein-The Overture for wind ensemble
  • Frankenstein-The Movie Score for wind ensemble, premiered by Michael Shapiro conducting the Dallas Winds
  • Bamboula for band, premiered by Matthew Thomas Troy conducting the Piedmont Wind Symphony
  • A Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 for narrator and band
  • Ol' Mississippi Sings the Blues for band, dedicated to Blind Mississippi Morris and premiered by Albert Nguyen conducting the University of Memphis Wind Ensemble, and David Kehler, conducting the Kennesaw State University Wind Ensemble
  • For Every One for band
  • Full Speed Ahead for band
  • Enter Soft, Exit Loud for band


  • Sinfonia Concertante for violin, violoncello, and orchestra
  • Concerto for guitar and strings, premiered by David Tanenbaum, guitar, and the New Jersey Festival Orchestra, Brad Keimach, conductor
  • Concerto for harp and strings
  • Archangel Concerto for piano and orchestra, premiered by Steven Beck, piano, and Michael Shapiro conducting the BBC National Symphony of Wales
  • Concerto for violin and orchestra


  • String Quartet (Yiddish), premiered by the Hawthorne String Quartet
  • Piano Quintet, premiered by the Locrian Chamber Ensemble
  • Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano
  • Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano, premiered and recorded by Tim Fain, violin, and Steven Beck, piano
  • Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, premiered by John Fullam, clarinet, and Michael Shapiro, 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, recorded by Sato Knudsen (Boston Symphony Orchestra)
  • Peace Variations- for solo violin, recorded by Tim Fain
  • Kaddish-Berakhot-Nigun - for solo flute


  • Five Preludes
  • Mysteries
  • Sonata No. 1
  • Sonata No. 2, premiered by Jerome Rose at the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.
  • 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



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