Michael Cunningham of Eau Claire died February 10, 2022, at Mayo/Luther Hospital in Eau Claire, Wisconsin after a brief illness. He was born on August 5, 1937, in Warren, Michigan, to Edmund and Mary (Etienne) Cunningham, the youngest of seven children. After high school, he attended Wayne State University where he earned a Bachelor of Music degree.
He received a Master's degree in music composition from the University of Michigan. He served in the US Army, from November 1961 to November 1967. He earned a Doctor of Musical Arts in music theory and composition from Indiana University. After teaching experiences in Michigan, Indiana, Kansas and California, Dr. Cunningham came to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 1973 where he was Professor of theory and composition until his retirement in 2006.
Cunningham wrote over 250 musical compositions of various types, including symphonies and other orchestral works, piano pieces, art songs, popular songs, opera, band and choral compositions, incidental music for stage, and works for jazz ensembles. He orchestrated and arranged music by earlier classical composers. After retirement, Michael worked to have his music performed and recorded by European orchestras and performers, including the Moravian Philharmonic, the Zagreb Festival Orchestra. Kiev Philharmonic, Prague Symphony, and others. About 15 CDs dedicated to his music are available on Navone recordings. Please visit Michael's website, scoredreamer.com, for his musical compositions.
In addition to his compositional work, Cunningham found time to author numerous books on musical subjects, ranging from writings on music theory and composition, basic ear training, music history, and guides for listening to Classical music. He was an industrious and productive individual; he will be missed by all who knew him.
Michael had an extensive interest in classic movies. His knowledge was almost encyclopedic in that he knew dates of release, performers involved, directors, studio names and awareness of critical reviews. He continually searched for and purchased available copies of old movies and was eager to share them with his friends.
Michael Cunningham is survived by a brother, Edmund Cunningham of Saginaw, Michigan. He is preceded in death by five sisters (Jean, Ruth, Rosemarie, Margaret and Kathleen). He is further survived by numerous nieces and nephews.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11am on Thursday, February 17, 2022 at St. Patrick's Catholic Church, 316 Fulton St., Eau Claire, WI. Visitation will be held one hour prior to the mass at the church. Entombment will take place at the Resurrection Chapel Mausoleum at Calvary Cemetery in Eau Claire.
Please make donations in Michael's name to St. Patrick's Catholic Church.
Lenmark-Gomsrud-Linn Funeral & Cremation Services is assisting the family. Online condolences may be shared at www.lenmarkfh.com.
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