‘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
Head of Composition, William Mival, joins student composers Phoebe Garrett and Eduardo Andrade Azanza to talk about the opportunities RCM students enjoy.
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.
RCM composers have enjoyed positions on young composers’ schemes at the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and London Symphony Orchestra. Recent graduates have also achieved prestigious composer-in-residence positions at Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Glyndebourne Opera, the Handel House Museum and the Australian Festival of Chamber Music.
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
'At the RCM you’re following in the footsteps of some of the world’s greatest musicians. It’s incredibly inspiring to walk around and work in a building with so much history to it.'
'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.'
'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.'
'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.'
'The RCM offers me the highest quality of guidance and a wide range of practical opportunities, strengthening my own voice as a composer in today’s world.'
At the Royal College of Music you will have access to a wholly exceptional performance environment, with the opportunity to hear your compositions played by resident and visiting musicians, RCM orchestras, ensembles and fellow students of the highest musical ability. You are also able to make use of the RCM Studios with its electroacoustic composition and technical support.
RCM composers enjoy collaborations with artistic organisations in London and beyond. Previously the faculty has worked with opera company Tête à Tête and director Bill Bankes-Jones, alongside the RCM Opera Studio to stage a collection of brand new short operas by RCM composers, taking Frankenstein, Great Expectations and Crime and Punishment as their themes. Other exciting projects include the Royal Academy of Arts’ Summer Exhibition, and collaborations with the London Film School, Central Saint Martins, University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna and the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.
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:
- Mira Calix
- Chaya Czernowin
- Brett Dean
- Michael Giacchino
- Harry Gregson-Williams
- Catherine Kontz
- Helmut Lachenmann
- David Lang
- Colin Matthews
- Rachel Portman
- Robin de Raaff
- Steve Reich
- Heather Roche
- Howard Shore
- Mel Wesson
- Kate Whitley
- Debbie Wiseman
- Gary Yershon
- Hans Zimmer
RCM composers have regularly won prizes at major international competitions, including:
- Primetime Emmy Awards
- Grammy Awards
- Oticons Faculty International Film Music Competition
- BMI Student Composer Awards
- Ivors Composers Academy awards
- ASCAP Foundation Michelle and Dean Kay Award
- Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s Christopher Brooks Composition Prize
RCM composers have also enjoyed prestigious composer in residence positions with institutions such as:
- Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
- Handel House Museum
- Australian Festival of Chamber Music
Recent commissions from students, current faculty and alumni include works for:
- Berliner Philharmoniker
- Dame Evelyn Glennie at the BBC Proms
- Chicago Symphony Orchestra
- Cleveland Symphony Orchestra
- Ensemble Intercontemporain
- Ensemble Modern
- London Sinfonietta
- Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
- 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 has three major performance spaces. The Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall which has an illustrious history and is the primary performance venue for RCM orchestras and large ensembles. Our 400-seat Britten Theatre boasts excellent technical facilities for the RCM’s thriving International Opera School. The Performance Hall offers an alternative space for ensemble performances and orchestral rehearsals, and boasts a retractable stage, comprehensive technical infrastructure and variable acoustics, providing versatility for the range of events staged by the College.
In addition, more intimate spaces for solo and chamber performance include the Performance Studio and 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, a number of sound-proofed Amadeus Music Pods and organ rooms. We have over 160 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 commercial-grade facility, equipped with professional 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 scores, books and recordings in its lending collection, plus access to more than 400 music journals. The library also subscribes to many online resources including Oxford Music Online, Naxos Music Library, JSTOR, Met Online and the Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall. In addition, the RCM also boasts an internationally renowned collection of original manuscripts (including examples from Mozart and Elgar) early printed editions and archives.
The RCM Museum holds more than 15,000 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 in the collection 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
Five Royal College of Music alumni have been nominated for this year’s Ivors Composer Awards.
The Royal College of Music has launched its autumn events season for 2020, including the first performances in its brand-new Performance Hall.
Sir Antonio Pappano, John Wilson and Holly Mathieson feature alongside RCM students in this month's online concert series, taking classic performances from our archives.
The Royal College of Music achieves strong performance in this year's National Student Survey (NSS).
Rafael Payare, Juraj Valčuha, Roderick Williams and the Harlem Quartet feature alongside RCM students in this month's online concert series, taking classic performances from our archives. We are also pleased to announce an online showcase of some of our doctoral research.
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