Michael Hornstein was born of a German father and an Italian mother in 1962. He started playing the piano at the age of 10 and later saxophone at the age of 14. Michael Hornstein began as a self-taught musician under the influence of listening to Charlie Parker. He studied music at the University for music and interpretative arts in Graz from 1979 to 1982. In 1983 he received a scholarship to study at the Berklee College of Music.
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