‘Students are encouraged to develop their musical voice through a wide range of opportunities to gain the confidence and knowledge needed to grow as an independent creative artist.’
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.
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, Errollyn Wallen, Deirdre Gribbin and Catherine Kontz, 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, London Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Society Composers Programme. 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.
Students laughing in the RCM's entrance hall during the Great Exhibitionists event
Student composing on a computer with a keyboard
Composition students performing their composed pieces at FestivALL
Dr Dimitri Scarlato talking to students
Composition student talking to a conductor and musician students rehearsing their composed music
'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 an 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 facilities including the new Dolby Atmos suite, our Digital Innovation Lab for electro-acoustic and screen composition, immersive sound technology and platforms including Panopto for virtual performance.
The Composition Faculty regularly collaborates with a range of artistic organisations in London and beyond. RCM composers have worked with the Tête à Tête opera company and Bill Bankes-Jones, the Royal Academy of Arts and in collaborations with the Explore Ensemble, Fidelio Trio, Head On Photo Festival in Australia, London Film School, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, the Royal College of Art, Central Saint Martins, and the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, as well as a digital collaboration with English National Ballet School.
Our alumni include many of the most successful composers working internationally across all areas of composition including concert music, sound art, music theatre, music education, film, tv and gaming.
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:
- Chaya Czernowin
- Tansy Davies
- Brett Dean
- Michael Giacchino
- Harry Gregson-Williams
- Darragh Morgan
- David Lang
- Colin Matthews
- Anna Meredith
- Nico Mulhy
- Rachel Portman
- Steve Reich
- Howard Shore
- Mel Wesson
- Kate Whitley
- Debbie Wiseman
- Gary Yershon
- Hans Zimmer
RCM composers have regularly won prizes at major international competitions, including:
- Hindemith Prize
- Siemens Composers Prize
- Primetime Emmy Awards
- BMI Student Composer Awards
- Ivors Composers Academy awards
- ASCAP Foundation Michelle and Dean Kay Award
- Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s Christopher Brooks Composition Prize
- Royal Philharmonic Large-Scale Composition Award
- Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize
- Primetime Emmy Awards
- Grammy Awards
- Oticons Faculty International Film Music Competition
RCM composers have also enjoyed prestigious composer in residence positions with institutions such as:
- Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
- Glyndebourne Opera
- 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
- Steven Daverson
- Anne Dudley
- Michael Finnissy
- Raquel Garcia Tomas
- Arne Gieshoff
- Gustav Holst
- Joseph Horovitz
- Dani Howard
- Lisa Illean
- Constant Lambert
- Nicola Le Fanu
- Andrew Lloyd Webber
- Elisabeth Lutyens
- Dame Elizabeth Maconchy
- Anna Meredith
- Ernest Moeran
- Nicholas Morrish
- Alex Paxton
- 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.
The Royal College of Music is proud to offer its students fantastic practice and performance facilities with resources to support teaching and learning. We continually improve our facilities to ensure RCM students have the best opportunities.
Key facilities at the RCM include:
- The Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall - our primary performance venue for orchestras and large ensembles.
- Our 400-seat Britten Theatre, home to the RCM’s thriving International Opera School.
- A new Performance Hall, offering an alternative space for ensembles, with a retractable stage, Fazioli grand piano and variable acoustics.
- Intimate spaces for solo and chamber performance in our Performance Studio and Parry Rooms.
- Sound-proofed Amadeus Music Pods for private practice.
- A purpose-built percussion suite – you can watch a video tour on YouTube.
- Over 160 pianos, including 60 grand pianos and 20 early keyboards, as well as organ rooms.
- A Blüthner Practice Suite which holds ten Blüthner Model A upright pianos.
- Instrument surgeries including luthier services.
- RCM Studios: a commercial-grade facility, enabling live broadcasts around the world.
- Digital Innovation Lab: advanced recording and mixing suite.
- RCM Library with more than 200,000 scores, books and recordings in its lending collection, as well as access to more than 400 music journals.
- Recently refurbished RCM Museum, holding more than 14,000 instruments, portraits and images, as well as a climate-controlled performance space and the associated Wolfson Centre in Music & Material Culture | Royal College of Music (rcm.ac.uk)
Latest from the Composition Faculty
Master of Music in Composition (MMus) 2002 graduate, composer, orchestrator and educator, and BBC Radio 3 Producer.
Master of Music graduate 2021, professional composer and jazz pianist, former Royal Philharmonic Composer, advocate for new music and widening access.
Three out of the four places on the 2023/24 LSO Soundhub scheme have been awarded to RCM composers.
The Royal College of Music (RCM) achieved the highest rating of Gold for its outstanding teaching, delivery of student experience and outcomes in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) 2023.
The Royal College of Music is delighted to announce a new global partnership with the industry-leading online platform Forte offering lessons with RCM teachers to students in the global Inspired Schools group.
Distinguished conductor Sir Andrew Davis makes his debut at the College, and world-renowned piano virtuoso Lang Lang shares his expertise with students as part of the RCM's masterclass series.
Composition for Screen students showcase their work performed to new short films, documentaries and animations by early career professionals, rescoring of videogames extracts and public domain videos.
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
+44 (0)20 7591 4362