Michael Blake took piano lessons from the age of 9 at the South African College of Music, Cape Town. His teachers included Sheila Rossouw and Ashley Hartley. At Wits University, and subsequently, he studied with Adolph Hallis, a former pupil of Leschetitzky. In Europe he attended masterclasses with Aloys Kontarsky and Charles Rosen, and at various time had lessons with Katarina Wolpe and John Tilbury.

Michael Blake first played in public when he was 12, and started performing the 20th century repertoire as a student in the early 1970s. His repertoire has included late Liszt and Busoni, the Second Viennese School, postwar European music, Ives and the American Experimentalists, Cardew and the English Experimentalists, and African and South African music.

Michael Blake has worked in piano duos with Jill Richards, Roy Stratford, Antony Gray and Sally Rose and, and has partnered instrumentalists and singers, among them Anne Laberge (flute), Lesley Larkum (violin), Chris Brannick (percussion) and Beth Griffith (soprano).

As well as playing keyboard in his own new music groups Orion Ensemble (1975-76), Moonchild (1977; 1980-81), Metanoia (1979-1986), London New Music (1986-1996) and the Michael Blake Ensemble (and from time to time conducting them), he freelanced as a keyboard player in new music groups when he was based in London (1977-1997).

He has given solo and duo concerts in Europe, North and South America and South Africa. London New Music had a regular London season, made several British Council tours to Europe and recorded for BBC Radio 3 and several European radio and television stations.