Michael Kunze is a lyricist and librettist of the musical theater. His hit shows ELISABETH, DANCE OF THE VAMPIRES, MOZART! and REBECCA have reached an audience of more than 16 million people in many countries. The worldwide box office gross of his works has passed the 1 billion mark. As a lyricist he has created more than 200 chart songs and was honored with a Grammy and an Echo Lifetime Award. He also wrote several books.
His musicals are regarded the foundation of a new genre of the contemporary popular musical theatre, called the DramaMusical. It is characterized by an eleborate dramatic structure which integrates elements of the film structure into the classic two act drama form. Michael likes to describe himself as “an architect of the musical drama”. As an adaptor, he has been connected to the success of many international shows in the German-speaking countries, among them FOLLIES, EVITA, CATS, A CHORUS LINE, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, COMPANY, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, INTO THE WOODS, KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN, SUNSET BOULEVARD, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, THE LION KING, AIDA, MAMMA MIA! and WICKED.
Michael grew up in Munich, where he studied law, history and philosophy. In the late 1960s, he started to write popsongs, and soon became one of the best known songwriters of Germany. As a producer of first international acts, he hit the top of both the Billboard and Cashbox charts in the US and was the first German ever to win the coveted Grammy Award.
At the top of his success, he wrote a book on the witch hunt, "Highroad to the Stake", that not only was awarded the 1981 Faculty Prize by the Munich University Law School, but also was translated into several languages. It was highly praised in a two-page review in the New York Times Book Review Supplement.
In the 1980s, Michael Kunze started to adapt international musicals for a German audience, opening the doors of the German-speaking market to the modern Anglo-American musical. Ten years later, the first of his own shows opened in Vienna, a musical about the life of the Empress Elisabeth of Austria (music: Sylvester Levay). It ran for almost six years and was soon exported to other countries, such as Japan, Hungary, Sweden, Holland and Germany.
Collaborating with Roman Polanski (director) and Jim Steinman (composer), Michael wrote his first English libretto and lyrics for the musical, DANCE OF THE VAMPIRES. A German version opened in October 1997 at the Viennese Raimund Theater to raving reviews and became an international hit. An unauthorized and mutilated version that ran on Broadway for a few months could not stop the international success of the original.
Michael’s MOZART! (music: Sylvester Levay; director: Harry Kupfer), telling the drama of Mozart's life, premiered in October 1999 in Vienna (Theater an der Wien). It also played or is still running in Hamburg/Germany, Karlstad/Sweden, Tokyo/Japan, Munich/Germany, Budapest/Hungary and Seoul/South Korea. Further productions are planned.
In 2006 two new musicals have been added to Michael's list. REBECCA, based on Daphne Du Maurier's famous novel, premiered on September 28 at Vienna's Raimund Theater. It became a sensational success (97% average attendance, „Best Musical 2007“) and is slated for a West End opening in early 2011. MARIE ANTOINETTE, a musical dramatizing the events of the French Revolution, had a grand opening in Tokyo's most prestigious Imperial Theatre on November 1, 2006. It opened in Europe in early 2009 at the Bremen Musical Hall /Germany. In 2010 Michael’s Pop Oratorio, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (music by Dieter Falk), was performed by a cast of 2555 singers and actors at the huge Dortmund Westfalen Hall for an audience of 20 000 people.
In addition to his Grammy, Michael holds an Echo Lifetime Award, 88 Gold and Platinum Records, 3 Golden Europe Awards, 2 Best Musicals Awards (Image1996 and Image 1998), Musical Of The Year Award 2000 (Mozart!), 2001 (Elisabeth), 2003 (Dance Of The Vampires), 2007 (Rebecca). Michael is a member of GEMA, Deutsche Dramatiker Union and The Dramatists Guild, Inc. New York. He and his wife, Roswitha, live in Hamburg / Germany.