Michael Walthius is an American composer born on the South Side of Chicago in 1957. His musical education started when he started learning the piano in 1964. Throughout school he would continue to play the piano in various school bands, choirs and musical productions.
In high school, he played in a rock/pop band in which he played an electric piano and synthesiser, both borrowed from a friend. He also had his first experience with electronic music composition when he completed an independent study project in his senior year.
Michael went to college in 1975 to study piano performance and music composition. However, in 1976 he decided not to return to college as he could not see it preparing him for any career other than a junior high school band director, which he did not want to be. Instead, he moved to Los Angeles with "$600 and a tennis racket", his aim to found a rock and roll band. he was 18.
In 1978, Michael founded Monarch, a three-piece power trio featuring Tim Budner (guitar and vocals), Mike Sato (drums and lead vocals), and himself (keyboards and keyboard bass). The band enjoyed some local success and was even offered a recording contract by Rocket Records, which they turned down on the advice of their attorneys.
In 1981, Monarch disbanded and Michael returned to Cleveland (where his family had moved to in 1969). A large part of the decision seems to have been disillusionment at the music industry when his attorney became president of PolyGram Records and the band still did not get signed.
During the mid-1980s, Michael played in a local band called Siren and did some occasional session work and composition. Then, in 1985, he got married to his wife, Joanne and in 1987, his "day job turned into a career" marking a period until 1991 in which he did little musically.
In 1992, Michael came across the concept of General MIDI for the first time and, having bought a sound card, a synth module and some music software, Michael started composing and recording music once more.
In 1995, Michael went online for the first time and tried looking for MIDI files. Soon, he realised that he could write and share on-line his own MIDI files.
It was during this time that Michael Walthius had his period of greatest success, with his work finding a wide audience. His instrumental music, a blend of electronic and jazz, was uniquely suited the MIDI format and played to its strengths. It managed to sound good on most commercial MIDI sound cards, a feat that was impressive in those times.
It is impossible to accurately judge how popular his music was during this time. The only real indicator of his popularity was that most music MIDI websites carried at least a few of his songs, a penetration no other original artist seems to have had.
During this time, Michael was signed on as a musical consultant by Yamaha to help them develop their XG standard (eXtended General MIDI) and was commissioned by AMD to write music to display the capabilities of a new soundcard they had developed. He was also asked to write music for computer games, websites and other electronic media.
The coming of broadband and of mp3s ended the popularity of MIDI and with it his musical audience. However, fans could, for the first time, hear the songs the way Michael had intended them to be played by downloading mp3s sequenced using his equipment. As with the MIDIs, these were still being given away free.
During 2002/3, Michael abandoned electronic music altogether and concentrated on classical piano music. However, his wife bought him a Mac in 2004 and this, combined with new software, seems to have stirred his creative juices. Since he seems to have returned to making electronic music, publishing it on YouTube.
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