Born in England, Michael Musgrave graduated in piano and organ at the Royal College of Music (of which he is now visiting research fellow), and subsequently in the field of musicology at the University of London, where he taught for many years (including choral conducting in his musical activities), retiring in 1997 as emeritus professor of music. He now resides in New York City and is on the graduate faculty of the Juilliard School, teaching courses on the music of Robert Schumann and on the critical editing of music.
His field of research is 19th and early 20th-century German music, and English concert life in the same period. He is author and editor of six books on Brahms. These include a complete study of the music, The Music of Brahms (1985, rev. 1994), Brahms: A German Requiem (1996), The Cambridge Companion to Brahms (1999), A Brahms Reader (2000) and, most recently (with Bernard D. Sherman), Performing Brahms. Early Evidence of Performance Style (2003), with a CD of historical recordings: This won the 2003 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Award for Best Research in Recorded Classical Music.
As editor of Brahms's music, Musgrave's editions of the Liebeslieder Waltzes in both the vocal and four-handed versions have appeared from Edition Peters and Carus Verlag (Stuttgart), and of the two orchestral serenades op. 11 and op. 16, and the two overtures op. 80 and op. 81 (in their duet versions) for the new complete edition of Brahms's complete works, the Johannes Brahms Gesamtausgabe, published by Henle Verlag, Munich. His current project for this edition is Brahms's German Requiem itself, of which he is joint editor, projected for publication in 2018.
Musgrave's biography of Brahms's mentor Robert Schumann (2010) appeared in paperback in 2015 from Cambridge University Press. In English music, he is author of The Musical Life of the Crystal Palace (1995), and of a centenary assessment of Sir George Grove, the founder of Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians: George Grove, Music and Victorian Culture (2003). Musgrave received the Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Music from its President, Prince Charles, in 2005.