Amy Williams

  • Professor


Composition; Piano; Music Theory; Contemporary Music Studies.


I am a composer and I am a new music pianist. The two are inseparable in my artistic objectives. I often write pieces with specific performers in mind, exploiting their individual technical abilities and qualities. My sound arises from a modernist aesthetic but also benefits from a polystylistic approach that is distinctly American. Writing chamber music is of particular interest to me, perhaps from the experience of being an active chamber musician.  I am a member of the Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo, an ensemble dedicated to giving dynamic performances of challenging and under-performed repertoire from the 20th and 21st centuries. The Duo’s recordings, mostly with the German label Wergo, include the world premiere recordings of Stravinsky’s arrangements of his Septet and Movements (2007), numerous Nancarrow works (2004 and 2011), pieces by Erik Oña (2007), and Edgard Varèse’s recently discovered arrangement for two pianos, eight hands of his monumental Amériques. I see this artistic duality as essential and integrated, allowing for a full creative experience and world view, which I eagerly share with my students.

Recent Courses

  • Composition and Analysis Tutorial
  • Musical Analysis
  • Music Theory 1, 2, 4
  • Composition Seminar
  • Music Since 1945
  • Senior Seminar: Experimental Music
  • Composition 1, 2

Selected Honors/Awards

MacDowell Fellow (2022)

Innovation in Education Award from the Office of the Provost (Interdisciplinary Performance Laboratory) (2022)

Hewlett International Grant (2022)

U.S. Fulbright Scholar, University College Cork, Ireland (2017-2018)

Goddard Lieberson Fellowship in Music Composition from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2016).

Serge Koussevitsky Foundation Commission for Tony Arnold and the JACK Quartet (2016).

John S. Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (2015-2016).

New Music USA Project Grant for the “Microludes for Kurtàg” project (2016).

Alice M. Ditson Fund recording grant for portrait CD (2016). 

Aaron Copland Fund recording grant for portrait CD (2016). 

Central Research Development Fund, University of Pittsburgh (2014).

Creative Development Grant, Heinz and Pittsburgh Foundations (2012).

Innovation in Education Award (2011) from the Office of the Provost, University of Pittsburgh.

ASCAPlus Awards (2004-2012).

Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council Artist Opportunity Grants (2006, 2008, 2011).

Fromm Music Foundation Commission (2009) for the JACK Quartet.

George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation Fellowship for Music Composition (2008).

New Ariel Composition Competition-second prize (2007).

Audio Inversions Composition Prize (2006).

Bellagio Study and Conference Center residency (2006).

Wayne Peterson Prize in Music Composition (2002).

Akademie Schloss Solitude (Germany) fellowship (2000–2001).

Selected Recent Compositions

Bells and Whistles (2022) for piano trio. Witten for an premiered by the Junction Trio at the Denver Friends of Chamber Music.

On and On (2022) for two pianos. For Felix Meyer. Written for and premiered by the Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo at the Paul Sacher Foundation, Basel, Switzerland.

Telephone (2021) for 13 players. Commissioned by the Grossman Ensemble.

Urquintett (2020) for soprano and string quartet. Commissioned by the Serge Koussevitsky Music Foundation at the Library of Congress for Tony Arnold and the JACK Quartet. 

Lukas Observed (2020) for solo vibraphone. Premiered by Matt Ward/Talujon. 

Piano Portraits: Books I and II (2019-2020) for solo piano. Commissioned by the Music Academy of the West (I) and Clare Longendyke (II).

Give Way (2019) for cello and piano. Premiered by Brightwork at the Beyond Microtonal Festival, Pittsburgh, PA

Unison… (2018) for four identical instruments. Commissioned by Tim Brady and the Instruments of Happiness.
In the Shadows: Microlude for György Kurtág (2018) for piano four-hands. For the Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo.
Fünf Worte (2017) for soprano voice and Indian harmonium. Commissioned by Jacob Greenberg and Tony Arnold

Studies in Syntax No. 1 (2017) for viola and piano. Commissioned by the Stony Brook Chamber Players

Quodlibet (2016) for flute, oboe, string trio and piano. Commissioned by the Bennington Chamber Music Conference. 

Mise-en-Scène (2016) for wind ensemble. Commissioned by the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. 

Cineshape 4 (2015) for piano. Commissioned by the International Contemporary Ensemble for the 50th Anniversary of Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart. 

Ligamy (2015) for flute, clarinet, violin and cello.  Commissioned by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble. 

Child’s Play (2015) for soprano saxophone and percussion. Commissioned by the Bent Frequency Duo Project.

Stop/Yield (2015) for cello and piano.  Commissioned by Musica Nova Consort (Tel Aviv). 

Switch (2014) for piano four-hands. Commissioned by the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation for the New Muse Piano Duo.

Flood Lines (2013) for orchestra. Commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Dream Landscape (2012) for percussion quartet.  Commissioned by Talujon.

Falling (2012) for piano.  Commissioned by Brian Katz for the film, Roman Buildings.

Richter Textures (2011) for string quartet.  Commissioned by the Fromm Music Foundation for the JACK Quartet.

Brigid’s Flame (2009) for piano or organ.  Commissioned by the Music and Architecture Project at Calvary Episcopal Church.

Crossings (2009) for piano duet.  Commissioned by the Pittsburgh Chamber Music Society.

Pulse Stream (2007) for full orchestra. Commissioned by the Music Library Association.

First Lines (2006) for flute and piano. Commissioned by Andrea Ceccomori and Emanuele Arciuli.

Sala Luminosa (2004) for piano and chamber orchestra. Commissioned by the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra.

Composition Recordings

Cineshape 4 and Fünf Worte, performed by Tony Arnold (soprano) and Jacob Greenberg (Indian harmonium/piano) (New Focus, 2022)

First Lines, performed by Sarah Frisof (flute) and Daniel Pesca (piano), New Focus (2021)
Brigid’s Flame and Falling, performed by Matthew McCright (piano) (Proper Canary, 2018)
Cineshape and Duos, works performed by Lindsey Goodman, Scott Christian, Noah Getz, JACK Quartet and Amy Williams (Albany, 2017)
Switch, performed by the New Muse Piano Duo (Blue Griffin, 2017)
Child’s Play, performed by the Bent Frequency Duo Project (Centaur, 2017)

Crossings: Music for Piano and Strings by Amy Williams, works performed by the JACK Quartet, Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo and pianist Jeffrey Jacob (Albany, 2013).

Univocity, performed by the H2 Saxophone Quartet (Blue Griffin, 2012).

Astoria, performed by Amy Briggs (piano) (Navona, 2010).

Astoria, performed by Jeffrey Jacobs (piano) (New Ariel, 2010).

First Lines, performed by Andrea Ceccomori (flute)/Elitza Harbova (piano) (VDM, 2008).

Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo Recordings

Béla Bartók: Sonata for Two Pianos and Two Percussion (Paul Sacher Stiftung, 2018)

Igor Stravinsky: In Black and White (Volume 2) (Wergo, 2018).

György Kurtàg: Jatékók (Wergo, 2015)

As Fast As Possible (Wergo, 2010).

Ginastera: Cantata Para America Magica (Neos, 2010)

Feldman/Varése (Wergo, 2009).

Erik Oña Portrait (Wergo, 2007).

Stravinsky In Black and White (Wergo, 2007).

Jorge Liderman: Wind-Up Toys (Albany, 2005).

Conlon Nancarrow: Studies and Solos (Wergo, 2004).

Chamber Music Recordings

Chris Arrell: Diptych (Beauport Classical, 2013)

Cornelius Cardew: Material (Hat-Art, 2004).

John Cage: Imaginary Landscape No. 4 (Hat-Art, 2002).


Board Member, Amphion Foundation (2019-present)

Artistic Director, New Music On The Point Festival (2015-present)

External Examiner for Composition Program, University College Cork, Ireland (2012–15).

Advisory Board Member, Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music (2007–present).

Board Member, Music on the Edge concert series, University of Pittsburgh (2005–present).

Member of the Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo (1995–present).

Composition Mentor, Duluth Symphony Orchestra (2003–2004).

Assistant Director, June In Buffalo Festival (1993–2000).

Program Director, North American New Music Festival (1992–1993).

Education & Training

  • PhD, University at Buffalo, 1999

Faculty Groupings

Core Faculty

Main Department Affliliation


Other Department Positions

Director of Graduate Admissions