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Michael Knopf : Represented Artist

"To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men — that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense...." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Random Audio Sample: Maleny and the moon by Michael Knopf, from the CD Still

Photo of Michael Knopf

Born in Minnesota, USA (9 October 1955), Michael Knopf studied composition, music education, and jazz performance at Wichita State University. He immigrated to Australia in 1982. A composer and guitarist, his compositions range from jazz pieces and contemporary art music to sacred choral music, and include large choral and orchestral works, solo works and chamber music. His compositions have been performed in Australia, Europe, the United States, Canada, Japan, China, and Switzerland.

Knopf received his Doctorate of Musical Arts in composition from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music Griffith University in 2011. His thesis was 'Style and genre synthesis in music composition', and his composition folio featured small and large-scale works demonstrating his unique approach to polystylism and polygenre composition. One of the outcomes of the study was an emergent taxonomy for composing cross-genre music.

His work is often inspired by, or conveys, a sense of the spiritual. This is evident in the choice of texts used in Sar Galu (for tenor soloist and double choir); the exploration of nature in Pandanus in Mist (for orchestra) and On the Beach at Night (for mezzo-soprano and cello); and in his works motivated by other art forms and science. Works include many new pieces for solo cello, student cello ensemble, guitar pieces, Songs of Death & Guitars (a suite of songs for soprano, cello and guitar, with poetry by F.G. Lorca) and new cross-genre compositions for his contemporary ensembles Acoustica and Centauri. Knopf also uses natural and poetic metaphors to generate idea and musical material.

In 2009 Michael Knopf composed Cantillations for choir and ensemble, commissioned and premiered by St Peter's Lutheran College under the direction of Graeme Morton. He has completed a new guitar concerto with small orchestra, entitled The New Earth. This work exemplifies Knopf's deep commitment to a new repertoire for the classical guitar which draws upon his eclectic experience as guitarist and composer.

Performing mainly on a 7-string classical guitar, Knopf has developed a unique style combining classical, jazz and flamenco performance techniques and idioms. He also explores musical worlds in what he calls 'spontaneous composition' - the act of improvising and developing themes to create musical forms in the moment, giving birth to pieces poetic in approach and keen in its musicality.

His composition and recording Esfahan performed by Knopf and his ensemble Zafron Road Project won first prize in the Allan Zavod Cassical Jazz Performer's Award from Monash University. His Guitar Concerto The New Earth was awarded the sister prize in composition from Melbourne University.

Michael has written new works for PLEXUS trio (Melbourne, 2013-14).

Currently he is an associate artist with the Stairwell Project - Musicians in Hospitals in Brisbane, Australia, providing live music for patients, staff and visitors in clinical spaces. He has also initiated a series of "reflection recitals" in conjunction with St John's Cathedral in Brisbane as a community service, aiming to provide a calming and healing experience within the cathedral's remarkable acoustics. In such events, a wide repertoire is engaged including traditional guitar pieces, Bach, original compositions and improvisations.

Michael Knopf — current to March 2022

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Earth's whisper : treble choir with piano : for juvenile performer(s) Commissioned by Queensland Branch, Australian National Choral Association (ANCA) Inc. ; sponsored by Queensland Office of Arts and Cultural Development.
Digital sheet music sample Tchambreen : Tone Poem for Orchestra (2016) Commissioned by John Curro and the Queensland Youth Orchestra
Be silent and know : SATB choir (2011) Commissioned for Brisbane Chamber Choir, Graeme Morton.
Digital sheet music sample Like this : accappella version (2009) Commissioned by Graeme Morton, St Peter's Lutheran College.
Digital sheet music sample Cantillations : for choir and ensemble (2009) Commissioned by St Peter's Lutheran College, Graeme Morton.
Old tribal woman (quintets: oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, piano) (2008) Commissioned for Words and Music Concert November 2008

Analysis & Media

- Video: Zagros for solo guitar