Born in England in 1921 , Edward Michael spent his childhood and adolescence in different Middle East countries ; he was in London at the age of 18 when the Second World War broke out.
He was then recruited to the ground staff of the R.A.F. Having noticed the passion that the young man showed for music, the wife (a viola player) of a military chaplain taught him the basis of composition that he assimilated with amazing speed and, barely two years later, one of his works was presented at a competition in London - a competition that he won, which permitted him to hear his work, an orchestral scherzo (The Dionysies ), played at Albert Hall by the London Philharmonic orchestra conducted by John Hollingsworth.
After the war, he studied at the Guildhall School of Music. He rapidly obtained a scholarship to continue his composition studies. He had such good results that he obtained a second one for orchestra conducting. At the same time, he took private composition lessons, first, with Bertold Goldschmidt (a pupil of Hindemith), then with Matyas Seiber (a student of Zoltan Kodaly). He also studied violin with Max Rostal.
From 1946 to 1950, his works succeeded one another, performed by the society for the promotion of new music. In 1947, he won a first prize in orchestra conducting and started a career as a solo violinist.
He gave numerous concerts in which he performed with great success the thirty-five or so concertos that he had in his repertory as well as some fifty sonatas and more than two hundred other pieces for violin. He rapidly started to gain a certain level of fame in England.
But, because he was always attracted to the finesse of French music, he decided in 1950 to go to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger. He worked intensely under her direction for two years.
Due to painful health problems, he had to abandon his career as a violin solist as well as a conductor. From then on, he devoted himself exclusively to composition.
He composed many orchestral pieces among them a Mass for mixed choir, two string orchestras, celesta, harp, glockenspiel and percussions.
In 1954, he won the Vercelli prize for a Psalm for a male choir. Two years later, thanks to Nadia Boulanger, his Mass was performed by the orchestra of Radio France directed by Eugene Bigot.
The next year, his Nocturne for flute and orchestra won the Lili Boulanger prize in the United States, given by a jury which included Igor Stravinsky and Aaron Copland.
He left this world at the end of 2006 in the south of France.
The music of Edward Michael shows a deep understanding of the laws of harmony allied to a perfect mastery of musical construction. In all of his works, one can find a feeling for beauty, a well balanced relationship between melody, rhythm and harmony, on top of it there is a mysterious, poetic and colored expression with dramatic character.
One can really say that it is a new music which, while not abandoning tonality, deepens and renews the musical experience in its noblest sense.
© 2011 Spiritualite et musique