Area of Study: Composition

Composition at YSM

With an internationally acclaimed faculty and diverse performance opportunities across the Yale campus, the composition program at the School of Music attracts students from around the world. The School’s composition program focuses on acoustic composition, while encouraging students to explore computer music, recording techniques, and the analysis of tonal and non-tonal music. Composers are also advised to continue their work as instrumentalists and conductors. 

Composition students’ pieces are performed frequently by fellow students in solo, small-ensemble and orchestral settings, and on the New Music New Haven concert series. During their time at Yale, composition students are expected to produce enough work for a full-length recital program. Distinguished guest composers visit the School regularly to meet with students in the composition seminar.

In recent years, School of Music alumni have won such awards for their compositions as the Pulitzer Prize, Grammy Award, and Grawemeyer Award, and have served as composers-in-residence with a variety of orchestras, festivals, and other organizations.

Faculty Spotlight

Chris Theofanidis
Professor in the Practice of Composition

Christopher Theofanidis

Faculty composer Christopher Theofanidis’s works have been programmed by celebrated orchestras, operas, and ballet companies.

Degrees + Programs

Master of Music

The two-year master of music (M.M.) degree program is open to students who hold a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in any major.

Master of Musical Arts

The performance-oriented master of musical arts (M.M.A.) program is designed for students who want to further their education beyond an M.M. degree.

Doctor of Musical Arts

The intensive doctor of musical arts (D.M.A) program is comprised of a two-year residency followed by a three-year period in which candidates launch their professional careers.

Composition Seminars

The following composition seminars are scheduled to take place during the fall 2021 semester.

*These events are open to prospective students. Please email to sign up to attend via Zoom.

Sept. 16 | YSM new students
Sept. 23 | YSM new students/returning students
Sept. 30 | YSM returning students
Oct. 7 | David Lang (NMNH)*
Oct. 16 | YSM post-concert
Oct. 28 | Martin Bresnick*
Nov. 4 | Caroline Shaw (NMNH)*
Nov. 11 | YSM post-concert
Nov. 18 | Chris Theofanidis*
Dec. 2 | Kathryn Alexander, Konrad Kaczmarek*
Dec. 9 | YSM seminar/NMNH 
Dec. 16 | YSM post-concert

Composition Faculty
Martin Bresnick

Martin Bresnick

Charles T. Wilson Professor in the Practice of Composition, Yale School of Music
Director, New Music Workshop, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival
Aaron Jay Kernis

Aaron Jay Kernis

Professor Adjunct of Composition, Yale School of Music
Artistic Director, New Music New Haven, Yale School of Music
David Lang

David Lang

Professor Adjunct of Composition, Yale School of Music
Christopher Theofanidis

Christopher Theofanidis

Professor in the Practice of Composition, Yale School of Music
Coordinator of Composition Studies, Yale School of Music
Perform at Yale
At the Yale School of Music, there are numerous opportunities to perform in the School’s historic concert halls and throughout New Haven.
… [the Yale composition department] is constantly engaged with the world ...
Krists Auznieks, composition, ’16MM ’23DMA