Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Michael Daugherty spent his youth playing the keyboard in various bands and immersing himself in jazz, funk, and rock music. Music in these popular styles often find their way into Daugherty’s formal compositions. After studying at North Texas State University and Manhattan School of Music, Daugherty studied in Paris at Pierre Boulez’s IRCAM. He later completed a doctoral degree at Yale University and studied privately with György Ligeti in Germany. Daugherty began teaching at the University of Michigan in 1991, where he remains today.
His first composition to garner major national attention was his Snap!–Blue Like an Orange, which won the Kennedy Center Friedheim Award in 1989. One of his most famous works is his Metropolis Symphony, inspired by the Superman comic strip from the mid-20th century.
His opera Jackie O from 1997 explores the tension between “popular” and “high” art.