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Michael Kaulkin

Michael Kaulkin

Michael Kaulkin (b. 1967) is a graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory having previously studied at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary. He is active in the San Francisco Bay Area as a teacher and as a composer of works for chorus, orchestra, film and the musical stage. His music has been described as “exceptionally beautiful on many counts.”

A native of Washington, D.C., Kaulkin earned his Bachelor of Music degree at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he studied with Joseph Castaldo, and went on to further study at the Liszt Academy in Budapest, Hungary, where he remained for three years, studying composition with János Vajda and choral conducting with István Párkai. After returning from Budapest, he studied composition with Conrad Susa at the San Francisco Conservatory, where he received his Master of Music degree.

As a teacher, Kaulkin’s years in Budapest afforded him the opportunity to have a very close look at the Hungarian approach to teaching music literacy, recognized around the world for its effectiveness, and he applies those methods whenever possible. His is currently on the musicianship and composition faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory’s Pre-College Division and an instructor in Harmony at the Academy of Art University. He has previously taught musicianship at the Crowden School in Berkeley and served as Artist-in-Residence, teaching composition, at Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts (SOTA). An avid adopter and adapter of the Kodály Method, he has served on the Summer Institute faculty of the Kodály Center at Holy Names University and on the board of the Northern California Association of Kodály Educators. Some of his writings on topics related to the teaching of musicianship and music theory can be found on his blog at

Also a veteran web developer and WordPress consultant, Kaulkin recognized the need among self-publishing composers for an easy way to make their work available in print for interested performers. In 2014 he founded Swirly Music, which is now a non-profit home for the work of nearly fifty self-publishing composers and hundreds of titles in chamber, choral, vocal and orchestral music categories.

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