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About the Composition Department

Peabody provides expert guidance and rigorous professional training to young composers in a congenial and supportive atmosphere. We feel that the student can benefit best from an environment in which he or she is encouraged to discover and nurture their own expressive voice; one which is unique and personal, unencumbered by pressures to tend toward one style or another. We also believe that it is essential for students to have the opportunity to hear their music performed.

As a department, we furnish a great deal of performance opportunities to our students. These include up to six departmental recitals annually, multiple readings with Peabody’s top symphony orchestra throughout the year, and annual reading sessions with the wind ensemble and choir. Each year there are special performances in collaboration with Peabody’s acclaimed individual instrumental departments. Additionally, the award-winning chamber music program selects a number of composition students to write works which are rehearsed by established Peabody chamber groups throughout the year. Many of the groups go on to professional careers.

Another remarkable opportunity which happens every two years, is the selection of a number of students to write complete opera scenes. These scenes are then rehearsed, staged and performed under the guidance of Peabody’s internationally recognized opera directors.

All recitals and readings are professionally recorded by the Peabody Recording Studios.

Additional opportunities for Peabody composition majors include an extraordinary ongoing reading session program with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under Music Director Marin Alsop. For each of the past three years the Baltimore Symphony has read student works conducted by Maestra Alsop. On a regular basis we have also had readings and performances of student works by leading new music soloists and ensembles.

Composition majors pursue their studies in private weekly lessons with their individual teachers, supplemented by departmental seminars which include presentations by distinguished visiting composers, scholars, new music ensembles, and soloists.

Peabody has in place a Distinguished Composer-in-Residence program, in which a leading composer comes to the institute to give regular masterclasses throughout the year. The current holder of this position is Christopher Rouse.

The city of Baltimore boasts an ever-growing and diverse new music scene, and we encourage interaction between Peabody students and the cultural community at large. In addition to the hundreds of concerts at Peabody which composition majors have complete access to, the broader community offers a huge array of performances, exhibitions and shows. Not far from Peabody are the cities of Washington DC and Philadelphia, both of which have thriving cultural scenes of their own. The Peabody owns an extensive library of music both new and old, and students are encouraged to take advantage of this with regularity.

10/26

Join us for our Open House for prospective students at 5:30 pm in Cohen-Davison Family Theatre.

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Degree Programs

BACHELOR OF MUSIC

The Bachelor of Music degree program at Peabody Conservatory is designed to offer gifted students the training to prepare themselves for careers in performance, composition, computer music, music education, recording arts, and related areas of professional activity.

Also available:

  • BM in Music Education/Composition
  • BM in Recording Arts/Composition
  • Minor in the Business of Music
  • Minor in Musicology
  • Minor in Liberal Arts
  • Five-Year BM/MM Program
  • Joint Degree with Yong Siew Toh Conservatory

MASTER OF MUSIC

The program leading to the degree of Master of Music provides for intensive development of performance skills, extensive knowledge of the literature in the major field of study, and achievement of a broadened knowledge of the art.

DOCTOR OF MUSICAL ARTS

The program leading to the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts provides students with the highest level of professional training in the art of musical performance or the craft of musical composition. To this end, applied study in the major field is supported by extensive academic work in musicology and music theory. The Doctor of Musical Arts degree certifies that its holder is a sophisticated professional with the requisite skills and understanding to be an effective leader in his or her field.

Auditions

Due to the very high number of applicants and the small number of places offered for admission each year, gaining a place as a composition major at Peabody is not easy. Like all students auditioning at Peabody, applicants will be required to take examinations in music theory and ear training. Applicants to the department of composition will be expected to do well in these areas, at a level commensurate with the degree program sought.

Peabody’s Admissions Office has prepared checklists with detailed instructions for applying to the BM, MM, and DMA degree programs. Please take the time to familiarize yourself with your degree’s checklist.

All application materials must be received by December 1. The deadline for applying for financial aidis March 1. Decision results will be mailed on April 1.

Below are other generalized core expectations for the degree programs in composition at Peabody:

BACHELOR OF MUSIC

Auditioning prospective BM students should be fully conversant in the reading and writing of music. BM candidates are expected to demonstrate some knowledge of 20th century music, including post-war music (music written since 1945). Scores consisting of a variety of instrumentations are strongly encouraged. For BM candidates however, an orchestral score is not required. Three scores – but no more than three – should be uploaded to the application, along with all recordings.  Please be sure to clearly indicate the names of the compositions. Acoustic performances are strongly encouraged but not required. MIDI performances are acceptable. Instrumental proficiency (the applicant’s ability to play an instrument) is not required, but strongly encouraged.

MASTER OF MUSIC

Auditioning prospective MM students are expected to demonstrate a solid overview of contemporary music, including post-war music (music written since 1945). Three scores – but no more than three – should be uploaded to the application. Scores consisting of a variety of instrumentations are required. At least one work should be for large ensemble (at least 10 players). All recordings should also be uploaded to the application, with the names of the compositions clearly indicated. At least one of the submitted scores must be represented by an acoustic (non-MIDI) recording. Instrumental proficiency is not required, but strongly encouraged.

DOCTOR OF MUSICAL ARTS

Auditioning prospective DMA. students are expected to demonstrate the ability to be conversant in all aspects of contemporary music through the present-day. Three scores – but no more than three – should be uploaded to the application. Scores consisting of a variety of instrumentations are required. At least one work must be composed for orchestra. All recordings should also be uploaded to the application, with the names of the compositions clearly indicated. At least two of the submitted scores must be represented by acoustic (non-MIDI) recordings. Instrumental proficiency is not required, but strongly encouraged.

Contact

Please direct any questions about the application process or application requirements to the Admissions Office at 667-208-6600.

Please direct any questions about the composition program, students, faculty, or the new music scene in Baltimore to the graduate assistant, Cody Criswell: cody.p.criswell@gmail.com.