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.


Professor Stuart Greenbaum  
BMus(Hons) MMus PhD Melb


Associate Professor Elliott Gyger  
BMus Syd PhD Harvard

Elliott Gyger at the Australian Music Centre


Dr Katy Abbott  
BEd GradDip(Comp) MMus PhD Melb


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


Dr Melody Eötvös

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.


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

Composition Concert - Second Year

Wednesday 18 Sep 2019 at 7:30pm
The Ian Potter Southbank Centre
New works presented by second year Bachelor of Music Composition students. We strongly encourage booking in advance for all of our events. This guarantees your seat, and allows us to communicate any unforeseen event scheduling changes with you.


Thursday 19 Sep 2019 at 6:30pm
The Ian Potter Southbank Centre
Trumpet and Percussion: Nick Hewett Japanese Calligraphy: Junko Azukawa Saxophone: Rob Vincs Electric Guitar: Ashley Cross Percussion: Peter Neville Expat Australian trumpeter Nick Hewett and Japanese calligrapher Junko Azukawa re-unite with Conservatorium colleagues to continue their shared ...


Thursday 19 Sep 2019 at 7:00pm
Grant Street
Jazz sessions and art transmissions curated by students from the Conservatorium’s Jazz & Improvisation program. Featuring special guest performers each week: some old, some borrowed, some outright stolen, and some kind of blue. This program is generously supported by the Lionel Gell Foundation.


Chiptunes and coffee spoons: meet Kenny McAlpine, lecturer in Interactive Composition

20 March 2019
Professor Kenny McAlpine is the New Melbourne Enterprise Fellow in Interactive Composition at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. He talks to us about the creativity b...

Alice Humphries: turning the Tide with the University of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

14 September 2018
More than 100 young musicians will embark on their first international tour when the University of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra travels to Singapore and Shanghai later this mo...

Two-minute interview: Stephen Goss, composer and guitarist

19 July 2018
Ahead of his visit to the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music next week, world-renowned and acclaimed composer Stephen Goss speaks to Ken Murray about his composi...