Michael Eugene Seyfrit was born December 16, 1947, in Lawrence, Kansas, and was raised in Pasco, Washington, and Piqua, Ohio. He received a Bachelor of Music (1969) and Master of Music (1970) in composition from University of Kansas. On September 7, 1968, Seyfrit married D. Ann Murphy, a fellow student and clarinetist at University of Kansas; however, they divorced after a few years of marriage. Seyfrit received a BMI Student Composer Award in 1971 while attending University of Kansas. In 1972, he was awarded the Charles Ives Scholarship from the National Institute of Arts and Letters (now the American Academy of Arts and Letters). This award helped him complete additional graduate studies: a Master of Music at the Juilliard School (1972) and a Doctor of Musical Arts in composition from the University of Southern California (1974). His composition teachers include Darius Milhaud, Vincent Persichetti, Halsey Stevens, and Edward Matilla.
Seyfrit held teaching positions at the Catholic University of America, Wichita State University, and California State University. He taught composition, theory, organology, performance practice, and baroque flute. His knowledge of these topics helped him earn the position of Curator of Musical Instruments at the Library of Congress, a position he held for four years. During this period, he compiled the first volume of the catalog for the Dayton C. Miller Flute Collection, Recorders, Fifes, and Simple System Transverse Flutes of One Key (1982). In 1986 he wrote articles on woodwind instruments for The New Harvard Dictionary of Music. While in D.C., Seyfrit also worked as a researcher and historical orchestrator for the Smithsonian Institution's Division of Musical Instruments and Performing Arts, and was a founding member of the Smithsonian Chamber Players in 1976. Seyfrit played recorder, baroque oboe, and baroque flute in a variety of other ensembles, including Hesperus, Wondrous Machine, Berkeley Collegium Musicum, Portland Baroque Orchestra, and the Early Music Guild of Oregon. Eventually moving to Portland, Oregon, Seyfrit worked as a computer programmer while continuing to compose.
Seyfrit's compositional output includes a variety of solo and ensemble works featuring both avant-garde techniques and more conventional musical idioms. One of his final and more notable works is the musical theater production, The Desert Peach (1990), based on Donna Barr's comic book.
In January 1991 Seyfrit was diagnosed with AIDS, diminishing his ability to compose and promote new works. Seyfrit contracted CMV retinitis in January 1993, and became fully blind by April 1994. On May 29, 1994, Seyfrit died in Portland, Oregon.