‘Being a composer today is about having the confidence and the strength to be yourself – realising your own personal ideas and creating your own individual music.’
The Composition Faculty at the Royal College of Music focuses on both the creative and commercial aspects of being a composer. We aim to build and sustain your craft, be it composition for the concert hall, the opera house or for film, television and media. Composers are offered a wholly exceptional performance environment in which they have the opportunity to hear their compositions played by resident and visiting musicians, RCM orchestras, ensembles and fellow students of the highest technical and musical ability.
Composition & Collaboration at the RCM
RCM composer Ryan Cockerham creates installations to accompany a contemporary sculpture exhibition at the Royal British Society of Sculptors.
One-to-one lessons are at the very heart of every RCM student’s learning experience. Our professors are some of the biggest names in their fields, including Mark-Anthony Turnage and Gilbert Nouno as well as Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize winners Jonathan Cole and Dai Fujikura.
Individual lessons and visits from established composers provide an unrivalled opportunity for students to nurture and develop creative and technical skills as well as a distinctive compositional voice.
Composition for Screen
At masters level we offer Composition for Screen as a principal study option. This allows students to concentrate on developing the skills necessary for a demanding but rewarding profession. London is one of the busiest production centres in the world for the film, television and advertising industries. Studying Composition for Screen at the RCM will put you at the heart of a creative environment full of exciting potential.
Brett Dean in rehearsal during a residency
Michael Oliva in rehearsal
Bill Mival, Head of Composition, in conversation with Sir Colin Matthews
'I was thrilled to find myself part of a conservatoire offering a nurturing yet professional teaching environment, with exceptional musicians open to collaboration and thoughtful, encouraging peers.'
'I have had the opportunity to study with great composers like Chaya Czernowin and Michael Finnissy. These experiences have encouraged me to pursue my dreams as a professional composer.'
'What I’ve found at the RCM has surpassed my expectations, with professional quality studios, world class players, and access to invaluable mentors and guest artists.'
'Collaborating with filmmakers from other schools has been one of the most relevant experiences for me. I have created good professional relationships [...] essential for my future career.'
Composition at the RCM is about partnerships between talented composers who want to write music and gifted instrumentalists who want to perform music. Composers will hear performances of their own works in a variety of contexts and have the opportunity to benefit from a range of collaborations, which we host regularly with artistic organisations in London and beyond.
RCM composers enjoy collaborations with artistic organisations in London and beyond. Our students have worked on music for the health app ‘Rhapsody’ with Chelsea and Westminster Health Charity, developed soundtracks to two exhibitions at the Royal British Society of Sculptors, composed new works inspired by the Sensing Spaces architectural exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts and collaborated with the National Portrait Gallery.
The RCM enjoys regular collaborations with opera production company Tête à Tête and director Bill Bankes-Jones. Together with the RCM International Opera School we stage a collection of brand new short operas by RCM composers. Previous productions have taken as their themes Hogarth's Stages, Great Expectations and Crime and Punishment.
Our alumni work across the world, including Hollywood and London, winning BAFTAs, Grammys, Golden Globes, Academy Awards and other accolades for their work in film, television and video games.
Recent visiting artists
Our students enjoy regular visits from world-leading professionals, including composers, arrangers and sound designers working in a number of fields. Recent visitors, who have given talks, performances and masterclasses, have included:
- Jeff Atmajian
- Chaya Czernowin
- Brett Dean
- Pascal Dusapin
- Ivan Fedele
- George Fenton
- Georg Friedrich Haas
- Michael Giacchino
- Hanspeter Kyburz
- Helmut Lachenmann
- David Lang
- Lisa Lim
- Dario Marianelli
- Rachel Portman
- Steve Reich
- Howard Shore
- Jenny Walshe
- Mel Wesson
- Eric Whitacre
- Debbie Wiseman
- Gabriel Yared
- Hans Zimmer
RCM composers have regularly won prizes at major international competitions, including:
- Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize
- IdeasTap Sound:Vision competition
- 2014 CINE Film Scoring Competition for Emerging Composers
- ASCAP Foundation Michelle and Dean Kay Award
- Oticons Faculty Film Music Competition
- British Composer Awards
- Primetime Emmy Awards
- Grammy Awards
RCM composers have also enjoyed prestigious composer in residence positions with institutions such as:
- Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
- Handel House Museum
Recent commissions from students, current faculty and alumni include works for:
- Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
- Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
- Cleveland Symphony Orchestra
- Chicago Symphony Orchestra
- Dame Evelyn Glennie at the BBC Proms 2015
- London Sinfonietta
- Ensemble Modern
- Ensemble Intercontemporain
- Malcolm Arnold
- Luke Bedford
- Frank Bridge
- Benjamin Britten
- Samuel Coleridge Taylor
- Anne Dudley
- Michael Finnissy
- Gustav Holst
- Joseph Horovitz
- Constant Lambert
- Nicola Le Fanu
- Andrew Lloyd Webber
- Elisabeth Lutyens
- Dame Elizabeth Maconchy
- Anna Meredith
- Ernest Moeran
- Barrington Pheloung
- Edmund Rubbra
- Roberto Sierra
- Sir Michael Tippett
- Mark-Anthony Turnage
- Ralph Vaughan Williams
The RCM’s Creative Careers Centre, which is recognised internationally for its innovative approach to supporting young musicians, provides an unparalleled service to current students and recent alumni. The dedicated team partners with leading consultants, reputable arts organisations and local communities, delivering unique career-building opportunities and a direct route to the music industry.
The work of the Creative Careers Centre allows students to discover their professional identity, gain hands-on experience and new skills, develop an entrepreneurial mind-set and build a fulfilling professional portfolio.
Extensive performance and teaching opportunities are available, as well as valuable guidance on CV and biography writing, concert programming, communication skills, project management, marketing and publicity, online promotion, financial matters and how to develop a business idea.
We continually invest in our facilities to ensure RCM students have the very best opportunities. Our impressive performance spaces are matched by top-quality academic and technical provisions, such as our historic library and professional grade studios. The Royal College of Music is proud to offer some of the finest facilities anywhere in the world.
The RCM’s largest performance spaces are the Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall, which has an illustrious history, and the 400-seat Britten Theatre, which boasts excellent technical facilities for the RCM’s thriving International Opera School. In addition, more intimate spaces include The Parry Rooms, which have unparalleled views of the Royal Albert Hall, and our 100-seat Recital Hall.
As well as practice rooms and space for one-to-one and group teaching, the RCM contains dedicated opera rehearsal spaces, 11 Amadeus Music Pods and organ rooms. We have over 140 pianos, including 60 grand pianos and 20 early keyboards, instrument storage with special facilities for harps and double basses, plus in-house instrument workshops.
RCM Studios is a top commercial-grade facility, equipped with the latest audio, video and composition technologies, supporting the RCM’s recording needs and enabling live broadcast of performances around the world.
The RCM Library contains more than 400,000 items of printed music, 9,000 CD recordings, extensive music literature, more than 400 music journals, plus an internationally renowned collection of original manuscripts (including examples from Mozart and Elgar) and early printed editions.
The RCM Museum holds more than 1,000 instruments dating from the late 15th century to the present day, some of which are the earliest known examples of their kind. The collection is a unique resource and many of the instruments can be studied or played by RCM students.
The public museum is currently closed for refurbishment, but its vital resources are still available to our students.
Latest from the Composition Faculty
The RCM will fund three new scholarships for UK black and minority ethnic (BAME) students.
The RCM has achieved an overall rating of gold for its outstanding teaching and learning provision in the first ever Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).
Two RCM composers are among seven young people chosen by a panel of judges from Classic FM and the Royal Philharmonic Society to write a new piece of classical music to celebrate the radio station’s 25th birthday.
The Royal College of Music has today announced its summer 2017 season with the launch of a three-year residency by the Grammy Award-winning Harlem Quartet.
Royal College of Music graduate Charlotte Harding has had an ambitious new composition commissioned by the Tri-borough Music Hub.
Contact the Composition Faculty
If you have any general queries about composition at the RCM please contact our Composition Faculty administration team. If you have any queries about interviews or the admissions process, please contact our Admissions team.
Composition Faculty administration
General enquiries about the operation of the faculty and consultation lessons
Admissions and general audition enquiries