Michael Essl as a Composer


Michael Essl was born in Stuttgart in Germany in 1991 in a family of musicians. After initially training as a classical pianist, he decided to study jazz piano at the music academy in Stuttgart with Hubert Nuss in 2011. In 2014 he received a scholarship for the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he continued his education with Francesca Tanksley and Laszlo Gardony and at the same time began to study composition with Andrew List. From 2016 he continued his composition studies with Hanspeter Kyburz at the Hochschule für Musik “Hanns Eisler” in Berlin. Besides that he took part in several masterclasses and had composition lessons with Jukka Tiensuu, Jan Jirasek, Ofer Ben-Amots, Tomi Räisänen, Rainer Tempel and Johannes Schöllhorn among others.

Michael Essl is active as a pianist and composer in various fields. His compositional oeuvre includes orchestral works, chamber music, choral music and solo pieces, as well as works for jazz ensembles and music for silent films. His music is characterized by strong contrasts and a richness of associations. His experience as a pianist and improviser also enables him to combine complex formal structures with playful spontaneity. He acts without aesthetic constraints and combines different musical elements and especially influences from jazz to his own language.

He has received several awards for his works, including first prizes at international composition competitions such as the Alba Rosa Viëtor Competition and the Joseph Dorfman Competition. His pieces have been performed in Germany, USA, Finland, Belgium, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands by professional musicians and ensembles such as Christian Segmehl, Wolfgang Zerer, Avanti! Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble Garage, Freiburger Kammerchor, MDR-Sinfonieorchester and the Orchestra of the Komische Oper Berlin. In addition, several of his works have been released on CD. He has been sponsored by Edition Peters, “Klassik um Eins”, Deutscher Bühnenverein and Internationale Hanns Eisler Gesellschaft with scholarships. In 2022-2023 he is composer in residence at Junge Oper Dortmund.

Michael Essl lives and works in Berlin.

Michael Essl acts without aesthetic constraints and combines different musical elements and especially influences from jazz to his own language.


  • Arrangement of Lili Boulanger’s „Trois Morceaux Pour Piano“ for concert band (2024)
  • „Imprisoned in Time“ (2023/24) for Symphony Orchestra
  • “La Peur des Ombres” (2023), music for ensemble to the silent film of the same title from 1912 
  • “Das NEINhorn”, children opera for soprano, mezzo-soprano and baritone (2023)
  • “spleenige Dinge” for 8 musicians and one speaker with a text from “Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften” from Robert Musil (2023)
  • “Mädchen in Not”, chamber opera for four singers and seven musicians on a play from Anne Lepper (2022)
  • New piece for euphonium solo (2021-2024)
  • Arrangement of Ligeti’s “Etude for Piano No. 4 (Book 1)” for orchestra (2021)
  • “Klavierquintett” in three movements, for piano, violin, viola, violoncello and double bass (2020)
  • “Senja” for large orchestra (2019)
  • “VierViertel” for recorder, viola, tuba and piano (2018)
  • “Flowing” for organ and three percussionists (2018)
  • “Interplanetary Revolution”, silent film score for orchestra (2017)
  • “Humoresque” for chamber orchestra (2017)
  • “Forgotten Memories” for large orchestra (2017)
  • “Traum” for choir (2016)
  • “Unter Zeitdruck” for brass band and saxophone solo (2016)
  • “-ESCAPE-” for trombone quartet (2016)
  • “Taking the Right Fork” for big band and saxophone solo (2015)
  • “A Mystic Impression” for piano trio (2015)
  • “Three poems” for piano solo (2015)
  • “Turning Spindle” for piano trio (2013)


  • 2019: Cultural Award of the “Sudetendeutsche Landsmannschaft” (DE)
  • 2018: 3rd prize at the international composition competition „Young Virtuosos“ (BG)
  • 2018: Award for choral writing at the international composition competition „A.D.Kastalsky“ (RU)
  • 2018: Winner of the 12. international Kompolize-Competition (DE)
  • 2017: 3rd Prize at the international composition competition „Artistes en Herbe“ (LU)
  • 2015: Honorable Mention at the international composition competition „De Bach au Jazz“ (FR)
  • 2015: Honorable Mention at the international composition competition „The Other Composition Competition“ (US)
  • 2014: 1st Prize at the international Alba Rosa Viëtor composition competition (NL)
  • 2013: 1st Prize at the international Joseph Dorfman composition competition (DE)

Video und Audio

“Klavierquintett”, 1st movement

“Flowing” for organ and three percussionists:

“Mädchen in Not” Trailer



“Trois Morceaux” von Lili Boulanger, arrangiert für Symphonisches Blasorchester in der HfM Hanns Eisler Berlin:

“Das NEINhorn” in der Oper Dortmund 

“Das NEINhorn” in der Oper Dortmund 

“Das NEINhorn” in der Oper Dortmund 

“Das NEINhorn” in der Oper Dortmund

“La Peur des Hombres” im Comedia Theater Köln:

“Das NEINhorn” in der Oper Dortmund 

Past Events

children opera “Das NEINhorn” in Dortmund: https://www.theaterdo.de/produktionen/detail/das-neinhorn/

“Mädchen in Not” in Dortmund

chamber opera “Mädchen in Not” in Dortmund:

“Das NEINhorn” in Dortmund 

“Mädchen in Not” in Dortmund

“Das NEINhorn” in Dortmund

“Mädchen in Not” in Dortmund

“Mädchen in Not” in Dortmund

“Mädchen in Not” in Dortmund

“Das NEINhorn” in Dortmund 

“Das NEINhorn” in Dortmund 

“Das NEINhorn” in Dortmund 

Premiere of the children opera “Das NEINhorn” in the Dortmund Opera: 

“spleenige Dinge” at the Harbour Front Literature Festival in Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg

“Klavierquintett” at Forum Neue Musik in hfm Berlin 

“Mädchen in Not” in Dortmund

“Mädchen in Not” in Dortmund

“Mädchen in Not” in Dortmund

26.02.2023: (17h)
„spleenige Dinge“ at hfm Berlin:

25.02.2023: (21h)
„spleenige Dinge“ at hfm Berlin:

25.02.2023: (17h)
„spleenige Dinge“ for 8 musicians and one speaker – with a text from Robert Musil at hfm Berlin:

“Mädchen in Not” in Dortmund

“Mädchen in Not” in Dortmund

“Mädchen in Not” in Dortmund

“Mädchen in Not” in Dortmund

Premiere of the chamber opera “Mädchen in Not” with a text from Anne Lepper at the Dortmund Opera: https://www.theaterdo.de/produktionen/detail/maedchen-in-not/?fbclid=IwAR0qyehSsy-tP-QKccb1PRuhqoGy136s3rT1ZRvqqkSUm64tsMkJY_bjrx0