Composition and Theory

Students in composition and theory combine private composition lessons with seminars in composition, analysis, orchestration, and related topics. The IonSound Project, the music department's ensemble-in-residence, gives a concert of works by graduate student composers each spring. Residencies by other professional new music ensembles, in conjunction with the department's new music series Music on the Edge, provide additional opportunities for the reading and recording of student works. The University of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra also frequently performs students' works. Each year the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's Composer-of-the-Year chooses one local student work to be read by the Orchestra. Department of Music facilities include a well-equipped electroacoustic music studio, and professional quality live recordings are made during performances in Bellefield Hall 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 or ethnomusicology, 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. The Waltz Project Revisited - New Waltzes for Piano, his solo recording of waltzes by two generations of American composers, was released in 2004 by Albany Records to critical acclaim.

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 a 2008-2009 fellowship from the Howard Foundation and a 2009 Fromm Music Foundation Commission for a new piece for the JACK Quartet. Her works have been performed in Europe, Australia and the Americas by renowned soloists and ensembles, including the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, International Contemporary Ensemble, California E.A.R. Unit, Ensemble Aleph, Wet Ink Ensemble, Dinosaur Annex, Duo Diorama, and pianists Ursula Oppens and Amy Briggs. Her compositions appear on the Albany, Navona, 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.