Composer Michael James Elsbernd was born May 24, 1975 at Decorah, Iowa. His family moved to nearby Ossian, Iowa, where he grew up and received his first musical instruction while a student at St. Francis DeSales School. During his high school years, he began organ studies as a private student with Dr. William Kuhlman at nearby Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. He continued these studies while attending Luther College for his undergraduate degree.

Michael earned a Master of Music Degree with distinction from Westminster Choir College of Rider University and subsequently completed the Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in 2002 at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His primary organ teachers included Eugene Roan and James Kibbie. Additional studies were completed with Harald Vogel at the North German Organ Academy, Marilyn Mason, and Gregory Peterson.

The compositions of Michael Elsbernd are usually an evolution of his shorter hymn improvisations incorporating many of the standard conventions of the organ such as toccatas, counterpoint, etc. with a variety of harmonic languages and characters.

Since June of 2016, Dr. Elsbernd is Director of Worship and Music at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Des Moines, Iowa. Previous positions have been Director of Music Ministry and Principal Organist at First Lutheran Church, Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Director of Music Ministry at First Lutheran Church, Duluth, Minnesota; Assistant Music Director at First Presbyterian Church, Northville, Michigan.