Composition and Theory

Students in composition and theory combine private composition lessons with seminars in composition, analysis, orchestration, and related topics. Residencies by professional new music ensembles, in conjunction with the department's new music series Music on the Edge, provide annual opportunities for the reading and recording of student works. Recent guest ensembles have included the TAK Ensemble, counter)induction, International Contemporary Ensemble, JACK Quartet, Mivos Quartet, Transient Canvas, Ensemble Linea, and Arditti Quartet. The University of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra also frequently performs students' works. Department of Music facilities include a well-equipped electroacoustic music studio, and professional quality live recordings are made during performances in Bellefield Hall Auditorium and Frick Fine Arts Auditorium.

Because of the nature of the program, our student composers can also experiment with intercultural composition, incorporating non-Western instruments or musics. Most students also pursue interests in some facet of historical musicology, ethnomusicology, or jazz and some participate in our Western and non-Western performance organizations.

Each year, through the generosity of the Franz Lehár Endowment, we sponsor a composer-in-residence who works with graduate student composers and presents a lecture and concert of his or her works. Lehár Visiting Composers have included Milton Babbitt, Joan Tower, Louis Andriessen, Anthony Davis, Mario Davidovsky, Chen Yi, Zhou Long, Paul Moravec, David Del Tredici, David Felder, Daron Hagen, Betsy Jolas, and many others.

Composition and Theory Faculty

Composition and Theory faculty are widely performed and honored composers.

Eric Moe, composer and pianist, has received numerous grants and awards for his work, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Lakond Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His compositions have been commissioned and performed by some of the finest ensembles and performers of our time. All-Moe CDs are available on Naxos, Albany, bmop/sound, Koch International Classics, and Centaur. Fanfare magazine described his work as “wonderfully inventive, often joyful, occasionally melancholy, highly rhythmic, frequently irreverent, absolutely eclectic, and always high-octane music”. As a pianist and keyboardist, Moe’s playing can be heard on Koch, CRI, New World, Mode, Albany, and other labels.

Mathew Rosenblum's works, which draw on diverse elements from classical, jazz, rock, and world music traditions, have been commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fromm Foundation, Meet The Composer Commissioning Music/USA, and performed at the World Music Days in Oslo, the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, as well as in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City by ensembles including the New York New Music Ensemble, the Rascher Saxophone Quartet, Sequitur, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the Calmus Ensemble, and Opera Theater of Pittsburgh. His music has been released on the Mode, Albany, Capstone, Opus One, and CRI Emergency Music labels, and is published by C.F. Peters Corporation.

Amy Williams' recent awards include fellowships from the Guggenheim and Fulbright Foundations and commissions from the Fromm and Koussevitsky Foundations. Her works have been performed in Europe, Australia and the Americas by renowned soloists and ensembles, including the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, International Contemporary Ensemble, H2 Saxophone Quartet, Ensemble Aleph, Wet Ink Ensemble, JACK Quartet, and pianist Ursula Oppens. Her compositions appear on the Albany, Navona, Blue Griffin, Centaur, New Ariel, and VDM (Italy) labels. She regularly performs at notable international contemporary music venues with the Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo, with which she has also recorded numerous CDs for the Wergo, Neos and Albany labels. She is Artistic Director of the New Music On The Point Festival in Vermont.