Widely praised for his “haunting harmonies” (newmusicbox.org), “eloquence and sensitivity” (New York Times) and “flair for vocal writing” (classicstoday.com), Michael Dellaira’s music exploits the qualities of both speech and song, and encompasses genres from folk music to voice synthesis on computers.

Born in Schenectady, New York, Dellaira was educated in both philosophy and music; in the U.S. at Georgetown (B.A.), The George Washington (M.Mus) and Princeton Universities (M.F.A., Ph.D), in Germany at the Universität zu Köln, and in Italy at L’Accademia di Santa Cecilia and L’Accademia Chigiana. His primary teachers were Milton Babbitt,  Edward T. Cone, Paul Lansky, Goffredo Petrassi and Franco Donatoni. In addition, he had two residencies at The Composers Conference, where he studied with Roger Sessions and Mario Davidovsky. His numerous awards include First Prize for his monodrama Maud from the Society of Composers, an ASCAP Morton Gould Award, a Fulbright Fellowship, grants from the Ford and Mellon Foundations, the New Jersey Arts Council, Cary Trust, the American Music Center, and a Jerome Commission from the American Composers Forum. 

His music-theater work Chéri was a finalist for the American Academy of Arts and Letters Richard Rodgers Award in Musical Theater.  His opera The Secret Agent was named the Laureat at the Armel International Opera Festival, and his  opera The Death of Webern was chosen as one of the “5 Best New Works” of 2016 by Opera News.   His latest opera, The Leopard, will premiere on March 5, 2022 at the Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, in a production by the Frost School of Music, conducted by Gerard Schwarz, directed by Jeffrey Buchman and featuring baritone Kim Josephson and mezzo-soprano Robynne Redmon. 

Dellaira has taught music at The George Washington University, Princeton University, and Union College. His works are recorded on CRI, Opus One and Albany Records. He resides with his wife, the writer Brenda Wineapple, in New York City, and can be reached at mrd@michaeldellaira.com