The practice and study of composition has a long tradition at the University of Utah. The legacies of several trailblazing composers, including the illustrious Utah composer Leroy Robertson (1896-1971), the innovative Hispanic American composer Ramiro Cortés (1933-1984) and the electroacoustic music pioneer Vladimir Ussachevsky (1911-1990), have helped shape the dynamic character of the Composition Area and continue to inspire composition faculty to value innovative original work and the development of each student’s personal musical voice.
With an average of 25 composition students, 10 graduate and 15 undergraduate, the composition faculty can offer students individualized instruction and provide a stimulating environment that fosters the development of students’ creative and technical abilities in writing music. Each year, the area offers four student composers concerts, recorded reading sessions of student works with local professionals, and recitals and master classes from visiting artists and ensembles. Each semester, the Maurice Abravanel Visiting Distinguished Composer Series brings in a celebrated composer for a three-day residency that allows students to interact directly with renowned composers, such as John Adams, Milton Babbitt, John Corigliano, Mario Davidovsky, Lou Harrison, Jonathan Harvey, Tristan Murail, and Shulamit Ran, in an informal setting.
Our students typically go on to prestigious graduate programs or to teaching positions at academic institutions in the United States and beyond.
Ph.D. in composition student Matthew Durrant had his composition The Land of Standing Rocks: Three Southern Utah Landscapes premiered by the Tempo Ensemble at California State University, Northridge, in February 2014.
Composition Ph.D. student Devin Maxwell had his composition 40º 44' 5.82" N, 74º 1' 38.53" W performed by the highly regarded French-based Dedalus Ensemble in New York City in September 2013.