The Composition Department provides a thorough course of study in all areas of traditional and contemporary musical composition, including tonal and nontonal writing techniques, orchestration, and score preparation. The department also offers advanced training in instrumental, choral, and musical theater conducting.

A faculty of 40 active composers and conductors, many with national and international reputations, guide you in preparing for a career as a professional writer and conductor.

Although sharing similar methods with departments such as Jazz Composition, Songwriting, Film Scoring, and Contemporary Writing and Production, the Composition Department is mostly concerned with concert music, meaning music that holds its own with no other media. However, the department does work with creative multimedia, from traditional opera and theater to contemporary electronic and mixed media. In general, our music involves little improvisation and is written out in great detail, aiming to provide complete information (instrumentation, tempo, dynamics, articulation, etc.) to performers. 

The Composition Department teaches a way of composition that stems from the traditions of European “classical” music, which in the last 100 years has expanded to encompass influences from the entire world. We incorporate old and new, from Bach and before to John Adams and beyond.

Composition allows students to synergize all of their artistic influences (both traditional and contemporary) and express themselves in ways unbound by conventions and stylistic parameters.

Every year the Professional Writing Division and Composition Department organize a series of faculty and student concerts showcasing faculty and student compositions and arrangements.

For further information about the Composition Department, please email or call 617-747-8185.

Learn more about studying composition at Berklee: