Michael Seyfrit was born in Kansas in 1947 and grew up in Pasco, Washington and Piqua, Ohio. In the course of a multifaceted career, Seyfrit did research and historical orchestrations for the Smithsonian Institution's Divisions of Musical Instruments and Performing Arts, and was Curator of Musical Instruments at the Library of Congress for four years. His writings include Musical Instruments in the Dayton C. Miller Collection at the Library of Congress, Volume I: Recorders, Fifes, and Simple System Transverse Flutes of One Key, and the articles on woodwind instruments in the 1986 edition of The New Harvard Dictionary of Music. As a composer, he received the Charles Ives Scholarship from the National Academy of Arts and Letters.
As an instrumentalist on recorder, baroque oboe and baroque flute, Seyfrit performed and recorded with the Smithsonian Chamber Players and appeared with other ensembles including Hesperus, Wondrous Machine, Berkeley Collegium Musicum, Portland Baroque Orchestra and Early Music Guild of Oregon. His final years were spent on the West Coast, where he worked as a computer programmer. Michael Seyfrit died of AIDS in Portland, Oregon at the age of 46 on May 29, 1994. — Nurit Tilles
In His Own Words
Michael had an article "Going Blind" posthumously published in the 1995 May/June issue of American Journal of Hospice and Pallitative Care.
Michael Eugene Seyfrit, “Mike” to all his friends, died Sunday, May 29, 1994 at 5:10 p.m. Mike died peacefully at home in the company of his father and his extended family. At Mike’s request, there will be no funeral. Mike earned both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s Degree of Music from the University of Kansas, earned a second Master’s from the Julliard School of Music and then went on to earn a Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition from the University of Southern California. He was an educator, performer, music historian, instrument maker, computer programmer as well as a composer. A foundation is being established to work towards having his music compositions published and performed.
Mike was a former DC Lambda Squares member. He joined somewhat skeptically when I dragged him to classes back when the Lambda’s were dancing at Church of the Holy City on NW 16th St. We both joined the Rosetown Ramblers when we moved to Portland, OR in February 1986. Mike was bitten hard by the square dance bug. He went on to study calling, taught classes for the Ramblers and taught himself C1 and C2. Even after being blinded by CMV retinitis, Mike continued to dance as his health would allow. Those of you who were at Remake the Circle last summer in Seattle and Change Lanes to Portland, the gay A&C weekend last October in Portland, may remember him as the plucky little blind square dancer from Portland who refused to allow a little thing like AIDS get in the way of his zest for living. It was only after coming home from his hospitalization this past March that he finally allowed that he “probably wouldn’t make it to convention this year.” What a trooper … And they say we don’t have any modern day heroes!
— Michael McMullen
Information about his musical compositions, recordings, and instruments can be found below:
- American Composers Alliance
- Library of Congress
- OCLC Worldcat
- Online Archives of California
- University of Maryland Archival Collections
Listen to one of his compositions, Bill, for oboe and piano, on Youtube
At Star Thru The Golden Gate, 1986
- American Composers Alliance website : accessed 28 Aug 2020