Michael Colgrass Composer Modern Period

Born April 2, 1932 in Chicago, Illinois




Modern 1920-Present


Déjà vu for percussion quartet and orchestra, Snow Walker, and Memento for Two Pianos and Orchestra


Michael Colgrass was born April 2, 1932 in Chicago, Illinois. He began his musical career in his hometown of Chicago where he gained his first professional experiences as a jazz drummer. In 1954, Michael graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Music Performance and Composition. In his early career, Michael served 2 years as a timpanist with the Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra in Stuttgart, Germany. He then went on to spend 11 years as a freelance percussionist and composer in New York.

In 1978, Michael won the Pulitzer Prize for his symphonic piece Déjà vu, which was commissioned and premiered by the New York Philharmonic. In addition to his Pulitzer Prize, he received an Emmy award in 1982 for a PBS documentary “Soundings: The Music of Michael Colgrass.”

Recently, Michael has devised a system to teach music creativity to children. Through this system, middle and high school teachers learn techniques to teach children to write and perform music. Colgrass’s My Lessons with Kumi, a narrative exercise book, outlines his technique for teaching performance and creativity.

Michael is also an avid Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) advocate, and features NLP exercises in his book My Lessons with Kumi.

Today Michael Colgrass resides in Toronto, Canada with his wife Ulla. He makes his living internationally as a composer and writer.