Michael Graubart

In this interview, flautist, composer and conductor Michael Graubart talks about his life. Stories include his childhood in Vienna, his family’s escape by train from the Nazis in 1938, attending school in England as a child of refugees, his musical training (including his studies with Mátyás Seiber) and his work as Music Director of Morley College and at the Royal Northern College of Music. He also discusses his compositions and his devotion to contemporary music and reflects about questions of identity and belonging.


Michael Graubart was born in Vienna in 1930 and came to England as a refugee in 1938.

He studied physics at Manchester University, but spent most of his time there composing and playing the flute. He graduated in 1952 and worked as a development engineer in electronics at EMI for several years and then as a teacher and lecturer in maths, physics and music. During this time, he also studied composition with Mátyás Seiber, flute with Geoffrey Gilbert and conducting with Lawrence Leonard, playing the flute and conducting various amateur and professional choirs and orchestras.

In 1966 he became a tutor and conductor, and from 1969 to 1991 the Director of Music (Head of Department), of Morley College in London, where he developed the performance of 20th century music, taught electronic music composition and conducted first performances, including the première of Elisabeth Lutyens’s last opera Isis and Osiris and the first British production of Viktor Ullmann’s opera The Emperor of Atlantis. From 1962 to 1972 he was the Musical Director of Focus Opera Group, conducting many British premières of modern operas and music-theatre works.

From 1991 to 1996 he was a Senior Lecturer and Director of Akanthos, the College’s contemporary music ensemble, at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Michael Graubart’s compositions have been performed and broadcast in Britain, the USA, Canada, Austria and Italy. He has also edited early music from original sources, including the operas La favola d’Orfeo (Monteverdi) and Livietta e Tracollo (Pergolesi).

Links and sources

Michael Graubart website with links to sheet music

Elsewhere in this resource

Erika Fox interview

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