Esposito, Michele (1855–1929), musician and professor of piano at the RIAM, was born 29 September 1855 at Castellammare di Stabia, near Naples, in Italy. In 1865 he won a scholarship to the Naples Conservatory where he studied piano and composition. His first performance as a conductor was at the age of nineteen, when he conducted the Naples Opera. In Naples he married Natalia Klebnikoff, the only daughter of Pierre Klebnikoff, professor of chemistry and physics at St Petersburg university. Esposito toured Italy for five years (1873–8) before going to Paris, where he established a growing reputation. On 24 December 1881 he was visited by an old friend, Caracciolo, who was principal professor of singing at the RIAM in Dublin. Upon his recommendation, Esposito was offered the position of professor of piano at the RIAM at Easter 1882.
He moved to Dublin and for the next forty years was the impetus behind much of the vitality in the city's musical life. He wanted the academy to influence the standard of music teaching in the country, and in 1894 established a plan for supervised local examination centres throughout the country. In 1898 he founded the Dublin Orchestral Society with the help of public subscriptions, and conducted it with much success till 1914. Under the auspices of the RDS he also founded a small symphony orchestra, with which he gave a series of popular Sunday concerts for a modest admission fee.
His most important legacy was the introduction of an enduring school of piano playing at the RIAM. He was also a skilful composer and incorporated many Irish harmonies into his compositions; his Irish melodies was based on the work by the same name of Thomas Moore (qv). He won the Feis Ceoil in 1897 for his cantata Deirdre, and again in 1902 for his Irish symphony.
In 1905, in recognition of his services, Esposito was awarded an honorary doctorate in music by TCD. He was a respected teacher, and his most distinguished pupil was Hamilton Harty (qv), though Esposito acted more as Harty's mentor than his instructor. In August 1913 the pair co-conducted a series of concerts in Dublin that were promoted by Sir Stanley Cochrane (qv), a successful Irish businessman, who later established a music publishing firm with Esposito called C. E. Music Publishers; this utilised his great talent for editing music.
In 1923 King Victor Emmanuel III awarded him the order of the Crown of Italy, with the title ‘Commendatore’, to mark his contribution to Irish music. He retired in 1928 and returned to Italy after failing to revive the Dublin Orchestral Society the previous year. He died 26 November 1929 in Florence. He was buried at Trespiano where his gravestone is inscribed with three bars of music by ‘H. H.’. Of his four children, Vera Esposito was involved in Irish theatre, and Mario Esposito (qv) became a scholar of Latin learning in medieval Ireland.