Composition

Composition at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music is a graduate specialist program with an undergraduate pathway. This forward-looking course builds on our distinguished history of musical innovation.

Study Composition at the Melbourne Conservatorium

Composition at the Conservatorium is grounded within the Western notated art music tradition, while also engaging in dialogue with other contemporary musical practices. We'll equip you with skills in instrumental and vocal writing, orchestration, electro-acoustic music, professional score presentation, rehearsal skills and concert management, helping you to develop an original voice. Notable alumni include Peter Sculthorpe, Barry Conyngham, Liza Lim, Matthew Hindson, Annie Hsieh and Dominik Karski.

Composition study options

As an undergraduate Bachelor of Music student you can apply to major in Composition from your second year of study, taking a guided program of specialised study. Graduate student study options in Composition include Graduate Diploma (by coursework) and research degrees (Master of Music and Doctor of Music).

Undergraduate students from other areas of the University can learn about composition through related subjects such as Composition Studies, Orchestration and Music Language Stream (one, two and three) through Breadth study.

Composition courses

Our People

As active composers in the profession, Conservatorium Composition staff cover a wide range of technical and philosophical backgrounds, while remaining committed to a shared vision of compositional instruction.

HEAD OF COMPOSITION


Professor Stuart Greenbaum  
BMus(Hons) MMus PhD Melb  
stuartgreenbaum.com

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR


Associate Professor Elliott Gyger  
BMus Syd PhD Harvard

Elliott Gyger at the Australian Music Centre

SENIOR LECTURER


Dr Katy Abbott  
BEd GradDip(Comp) MMus PhD Melb

katyabbott.com

LECTURER


Dr Miriama Young  
BA VUW BMus (Hons) NZSM MFA PhD Princeton

miriamayoung.com

LECTURER

Dr Melody Eötvös

melodyeotvos.com

Learn about our student and alumni successes, and meet our current research candidates.

Recent student successes

Our current students and graduates have a record of sustained success in obtaining opportunities in the wider music industry. Many of our composers are selected to write orchestral works for both the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s Cybec 21st Century Australian Composers Program and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra (TSO) Composer School. Our composers also consistently feature in national development programs including those offered by The Song Company (MODART), The Australian String Quartet (National Composers’ Forum) and Soundstream (Emerging Composers Forum). We actively cultivate a creative environment that starts with Conservatorium's own musicians and ensembles and radiates out to the local community, to national programs and opportunities for performance through international workshops, residencies and concerts.

Scholarship, award and prize winners
  • Albert H Maggs Composition Award (annual award and Australia’s second largest national prize for composition) Past winners
  • Dorian Le Gallienne Prize for Composition (biennial). Past winners
  • Adolph Spivakovsky Scholarship for the Composition of Music Past winners
  • Esther Rofe Composition Award - Past winners include Lauren Morgan, Hannah Zreikat, Martine Wengrow, Clare Johnston, Carolyn Schofield and Samatha Wolf.

Find out about the range of funding, scholarships, awards and other opportunities available to Conservatorium composition students.

The Composition program has strong links with the wider musical community, notably the Australian National Academy Music (ANAM), the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Melbourne Recital Centre. Recent opportunities include:

  • Annual BMus Honours composer workshop with the University of Melbourne Orchestra
  • Annual reading and recording sessions for postgraduate students with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
  • Opportunities to collaborate with Melbourne Conservatorium of Music ensembles (such as Big Band, Percussion Ensemble, Brass Ensemble, Symphonic Winds, including via the Honours year subject)
  • Recurrent opportunities with ensembles in the wider community (such as Zelman Symphony and Choral at Monsalvat)
  • In-house workshops with professional artists and ensembles such as Marshall McGuire, Syzygy Ensemble, Halcyon Ensemble as well as Conservatorium performance staff

The Conservatorium offers funding for all postgraduate students. For composers, this funding may be used for interstate or international travel to attend performances of their music or to record works for folio purposes.

Each year, two graduating students are chosen to receive a commission to compose a work for the Melbourne Recital Centre’s Local Heroes Series.

Scholarships and awards

Scholarships and awards are also available, including:

  • Albert H Maggs Composition Award
  • Dorian Le Gallienne Prize for Composition
  • Adolph Spivakovsky Scholarship for Composition of Music
  • Esther Rofe Composition Award
  • Catherine Mary Sullivan Bequest
  • Dr Allan Zavod Composition Award

View scholarships for more information

New Music Studio

The New Music Studio presents an opportunity for students, staff and alumni to collaborate, compose, curate and perform new works together, to engage with major international artists, and to connect with the public via performance.

Composition Seminar

Each week, both postgraduates and undergraduates in the composition major meet for seminars from visiting composers, group lessons and post-graduate student presentations.  Past guests have included Mark Applebaum, Anne Boyd, Martin Bresnick, Eve De Castro-Robinson, Brett Dean, Andrew Ford, Don Freund, Detlev Glanert, Philip Glass, Barbara Hannigan, Gordon Kerry, Stephen Lias, Liza Lim, John McCabe, Richard Mills, Kate Neal, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Andrew Schultz, Harry Sparnaay, Peteris Vasks and Carl Vine.

Partnerships

Composition at the Conservatorium also has a number of industry partnerships:

Want to know more?

Get information on the courses you’re interested in, or ask our team a question.

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Conservatorium Events

Meet the Orchestra: University of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra pre-concert reception

Saturday 25 May 2019 at 6:00pm
The Ian Potter Southbank Centre
Join students and staff from the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music for a special pre-concert reception for secondary school music students and music teachers. This event will feature a pre-concert talk and give you the opportunity to meet with Richard Davis (Conductor), Professor Gary McPherson (...

University of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Saturday 25 May 2019 at 7:30pm
Melbourne Recital Centre
The University of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s second performance for 2019 takes us to the heart of Europe as the Orchestra plays orchestral showpieces from that region. The Orchestra opens with Dvorak’s vibrant Carnival Overture and Brahms’s St Anthony Variations. Finally, the Orchestra plays ...

Sense and Sensibility

Monday 27 May 2019 at 1:00pm
Melba Hall
German music of the middle of the 18th century was undergoing rapid stylistic change, with many composers caught up in the 'empfindsamer Stil' (sensitive style), aiming for expression of natural feelings in intimate and subjective ways. But the best of these composers remained strong contrapuntists,...