Composition

Master of Arts / PhD

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The school of music’s highly competitive graduate-level composition program welcomes students who demonstrate extraordinary intellectual curiosity and whose primary goal is to communicate with others on a profoundly human level. Above all, our faculty of renowned composers seek students whose personal voice is clearly discernible.

Students in the M.A. and Ph.D programs can specialize in Composition or in Composition for Visual Media. The cross-pollination between the specializations distinguishes the program. All students are expected to acquire and master advanced skills, which involves continued intensive study of music theory, counterpoint, orchestration, analysis, technology, performance, the traditional Western canon and its history, in tandem with the study of popular, jazz, rock, folk, and non-Western traditions.

Both the M.A. and Ph.D programs emphasize the collaborative relationship between composers and performers in such a way that a simulated professional experience is achieved. Composition students have the opportunity to take film music courses and world music for film. Film music composers have the opportunity to broaden their horizons by being part of a true composition program, and this gives composers stylistic depth and breadth.

By the end of the M.A., students will be thoroughly prepared to enter the professional arena, graduating with the tools they need to compose music for multiple purposes, be if for a concert piece, a film, or an opera. The Ph.D. program is designed in a two-fold manner: graduate composers are trained to become both practicing artists in their field and to become mentors for the next generations of artist-scholars.

Bruins Who Score- UCLA's film composition students
Anything but generic, UCLA’s Composing for Visual Media Program, which awarded its first degree in 2008, provides exposure to a broad range of musical styles, as well as what Lefkowitz calls a “focus on fundamentals” — long a hallmark of UCLA’s curriculum.
Marcus Norris awarded the prestigious Eugene Cota-Robles Composition Fellowship at UCLA
Recent Florida International University graduate Marcus Norris ’17 has been awarded the prestigious Eugene Cota-Robles Fellowship at UCLA. He will receive a full scholarship and a $100,000 fellowship to pursue his doctorate in music
Richard Danielpour presents The Passion of Yeshua at the Oregon Bach Festival
“Yeshua,” co-commissioned by OBF, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Soli Deo Gloria Music Foundation, will receive another performance in December at UCLA.
UCLA to host first piano festival devoted to contemporary canonic works
The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music presents the “Dialogues and Re-imaginings Piano Festival,” a three-day event that will feature the responses of contemporary composers to canonic works for the piano.
Composer Jon Jang will be artist-in-residence at UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music
The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music Department of Ethnomusicology will welcome pianist and composer Jon Jang for a week-long artist residency, from Jan. 16-20. Jang’s music has been likened
‘Inside the (G)Earbox: John Adams @ 70’: an up-close look at America’s most innovative composer
Composer John Adams turns 70 this month, and the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music is joining the world-wide celebration with a daylong symposium, “Inside the (G)Earbox: John Adams @
Nov 5 Mon
7:00pm
Free
classical, contemporary
Russian String Orchestra: U.S. Premiere of Six Student Compositions
One of the preeminent string ensembles in the world, the Russian String Orchestra, conducted by Misha Rachlevsky, performs new works by six composition students from the Herb Alpert School of Music.
Schoenberg Hall
Nov 7 Wed
7:00pm
Free
classical, contemporary
The City of Angels Welcomes Moscow's Finest - RSO @ UCLA
The Russian String Orchestra performs professor David Lefkowitz's "Zachor," two works by professor Richard Danielpour, works by Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky, which are a testament to RSO's Russian lineage, and Arnold Schoenberg’s Verklarte Nacht, a tribute to the composer for whom UCLA's Schoenberg Hall is named. Conducted by Misha Rachlevsky.
Schoenberg Hall
Dec 9 Sun
4:00pm
Free
classical, contemporary
The Passion of Yeshua - Richard Danielpour
Renowned composer Richard Danielpour's 100-minute oratorio—presented in both Hebrew and English—is situated in the historical musical legacy of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. Featuring the UCLA Philharmonia, Chorale and Chamber Singers.
Royce Hall

Explore Other Degrees

Composition
Mentorship in the creation and realization of music for concerts, opera, and visual media
Conducting
Graduate study and training in choral, orchestral, or wind conducting
Ethnomusicology
The study of global musical traditions through performance training, research, and field work
Global Jazz Studies
Jazz performance and musicianship courses are paired with African American Studies
Music Education
Preparation for music educators leading to a B.A. and teaching credential in just four years
Music Industry
Industry professionals and UCLA faculty prepare students for music-related careers
Musicology
The scholarly study of the histories, cultures, and critical interpretations of music and music-making
Music Performance
Study and training towards professional performance careers in Western classical music
Music Performance Jazz
A highly selective M.M. program in partnership with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz