Jordan College of Fine Arts
School of Music

Michael Schelle - Professor, Music

Schelle 1

Professor of Music and Composer-in-Residence Michael Schelle didn't realize music composition was his calling until his junior year at Villanova University in Philadelphia. After years of piano lessons and playing in rock bands, one night he took a date to a concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Eugene Ormandy and, by the end of the evening, he found himself much more interested in the music than the girl.
"They played Stravinsky's Rite of Spring and Debussy's La Mer, incredibly powerful and exciting music that was brand new to me," Schelle remembers. "And a living composer had written a new piece for the orchestra, and he was there and he climbed up on stage after the performance and I thought, 'Man, this is it!' This is what I want to do!"

Until that point, Schelle, who had grown up in the shadows of New York City, was always very involved in music but medicine appeared to be his destiny. His mother was an R.N, both sisters became nurses and his brother was a surgeon. Michael had gone to Villanova to study medicine but quickly realized it wasn't for him and changed his major to theatre, with a philosophy minor. With his sights now set on playwriting, he also wrote the original incidental music scores for some of Villanova's notorious avant garde theatre productions, an eye-opening experience which finally put him on the road to becoming a professional composer. Years later, Schelle's music - which has been commissioned and performed by over 300 major orchestras, university wind bands and professional chamber ensembles across the US and abroad - continues to mix the influences Jimi Hendrix with Stravinsky and J. S. Bach, the expressive chromaticism of Wagner and Strauss, unexpected theatrical elements, "And the big umbrella over everything is the experimental aesthetic of the likes of Charles Ives, John Cage, Samuel Beckett and post-Bop jazz pioneers like Lennie Tristano and Ornette Coleman, which is: Who cares? If that's the thing we want to do, that's what we're going to do. I love that 'devil-may-care', 'spit in your eye', 'break the rules' spirit. I love to try things. Still today, every piece is like a kid in a candy store - sure, let's try that".

Schelle has six cats, and two children: a daughter Katie, an interior designer with degrees from Sacred Heart University and Fairfield University (CT) and who works for a prestigious graphic design / architecture firm in New Haven, CT ... and a son Patrick who's a social worker in Manhattan and The Bronx (Patrick earned his MSW graduate degree from the prestigious Silver School of Social Work at New York University).

View Michael Schelle's campus directory information.