As a composition major, you will gain a foundation in traditional Western art music, while having the opportunity to explore jazz, electronic music, film scoring, and other media. In addition to having individual lessons with our award-winning faculty, you will have the opportunity to work with renowned composers through our Karel Husa Visiting Professor of Composition series. While taking courses such as orchestration, counterpoint, and arranging, you will hear your music performed by highly skilled musicians on a regular basis. Each year, composers such as John Corigliano, Christopher Rouse, George Crumb, Chen Yi, and William Bolcom present master classes, critique student works, and give lectures on their own work.

If your desire is to focus on the analysis and structure of music our degree in music theory is for you. Your studies begin with our rigorous core curriculum in music theory and sight singing, taken by all music students. During your junior and senior years you will receive additional in-depth instruction from our nationally recognized music theory faculty in a broad array of areas such as analysis, advanced aural skills, counterpoint, orchestration, choral arranging, and theory pedagogy.

If you would like to obtain a broader education with music at its center, we have two programs that will appeal to you.  The Bachelor of Music in Combination with an Outside Field degree provides an opportunity to maximize your educational experience in music while also obtaining significant additional studies in another field.  The Bachelor of Arts in Music degree provides an opportunity for even more studies outside of music, though this degree has fewer music requirements than other music degrees.  Students often are drawn to this program by their desire to expand the range of their studies, or even to pursue double majors or dual degrees.


The Department of Music Theory, History, and Composition congratulates the winners of the 2019-20 School of Music composition competitions:

Heckscher Foundation - Ithaca College Composition Prize

Winner: Nathan Froebe - Un/Controlled

This piece will be performed by Ithaca College faculty member, Prof. Steven Banks, at Ithaca College during the Fall Semester of 2020.

Ithaca College Orchestral Composition Competition

Winner: Jeffrey Taylor ('21) - Dreams Beyond Earth

Jack Downey '55, '61 Composers Competition Award

Winner: Grace Dashnaw ('21) -  Release, for 3 female voices and 3 cellos

Louis Smadbeck Composition Award

Winner: Becky Turro (MM) - Drop, for saxophone quartet

Richard K. Joseph '48 MUSB, M.S. '53 Composition Prize

Winner: Jack Edwards ('21) - Emergent Rays, solo piano