Composition at Columbia University


Composition Faculty

Assistant Professor of Music
Joseph Dubiel
Professor of Music
Professor of Music
Director, Computer Music Center
Georg Friedrich Haas
Professor of Music

Alfred W. Lerdahl
Fritz Reiner Professor of Musical Composition
Director, Fritz Reiner Center
George E. Lewis
Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music
Chair of the Composition Area Committee, 2014-15
Emeritus Composition Faculty
Francis Goelet Professor of Composition



MA, DMA, undergraduate courses, MFA in Sound Arts, through the School of the Arts and the Computer Music Center



News & Events in Composition

Andy Milne & Dapp Theory CD Release

Music Associate Andy Milne has released a new CD with Dapp Theory.  "Forward in All Directions" was released on 09/09/14 and is available worldwide. Produced by Grammy winner Jimmy Haslip and featuring guest performances from Ben Monder, Jean Baylor and Gretchen Parlato, the CD is the band's third release and chronicles its 15-year journey. The CD is already receiving positive response in the press:

"... spectacularly whelming on a first hearing - and then different spotlights illuminate the detail over time in an abundant journey of discovery."  -- AP Reviews

"Striking album... There's a very pleasing mix of toughness and lyricism in this recording, brought together by producer Jimmy Haslip. The writing brings beauty, emotion and narrative to more cerebral M-Base patterns in a very satisfying way." -- London Jazz

The group features Andy Milne on piano/keyboards, Aaron Kruziki on saxophone/clarinet, Chris Tordini on bass, John Moon with poetry, and Kenny Grohowski on drums.

For more information about Andy Milne's work and upcoming shows see his website.

Instrumentation (MUSI W4525, Fall 2014)

Course Information

Course Title: 
CU Directory Course Number: 
MUSI W4525
Jeffrey Milarsky

Fall 2014
Music W4525

Section 001 Call Number: 69864 Points: 3 
Day/Time: TR 1:10pm-2:25pm
Location: To be announced
Instructor: Jeffrey Milarsky (bio)

Analysis of instrumentation, with directional emphasis on usage, ranges, playing techniques, tone colors, characteristics, interactions and tendencies, all derived from the classic orchestral repertoire. Topics will include theoretical writings on the classical repertory as well as twentieth-century instrumentation and its advancement. Additional section will be provided with live orchestral demonstrations.

Prerequisite: Advanced music majors and extensive music background.

Techniques of 20th Century Music (MUSIV3310, Fall 2014)

Course Information

Course Title: 
Techniques of 20th Century Music
CU Directory Course Number: 
MUSI V3310
Sophia (Zosha) Di Castri

Fall 2014
Music V3310
Section 001 Call Number: 12208 Points: 3
Day/Time: TR 4:10pm-5:25pm
Location: 814 Dodge Hall
Instructor: Sophia (Zosha) Di Castri (bio)

Course Description V3310:

This course focuses on the analysis of significant pieces from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries via the close study of new techniques used by composers and theorists. Through listening, analysis, discussion, and composition, we will engage with a diversity of approaches to post-tonal music from the Euro-American avant-gardes. Music studied will include solo, chamber, and large ensemble works, as well as experimental vocal music, music theatre, and electronic/mixed-music genres.

Week-to-week work required of you: listening, study, analysis of assigned pieces sometimes accompanied with short readings (come prepared to share your perspectives in class); several miniature compositional response exercises. 

Plus two main assignments: a 20-minute oral presentation on a research/analysis topic of your choice; a final composition to be performed and presented in class

This course fulfills the requirement of a 3000-level advanced theory elective for the Major.

The prerequisite for this course is V3322y (Music Theory IV)  or equivalent.

Introduction to Composition I (MUSI 3239x, Fall 2014)

Course Information

Course Title: 
Introduction to Composition
CU Directory Course Number: 
MUSI V3239x-V3240y
Prof. Georg Friedrich Haas

Fall 2014 Music V3239x
Section 001 Call Number: 23074 Points: 3  
Day/Time: MW 2:40pm-3:55pm
Location: To be announced
Enrollment: 23 students as of July 15, 2014
Instructor: Georg Friedrich Haas (bio)

Composition in shorter forms. Basic issues of musical structure and expression are explored in traditional and contemporary repertory.

The prerequisites for this course are V1002 Fundamentals of Western Music and the instructor's permission. 

20th Century Music (MUSI V3172, Fall 2014)

Course Information

Course Title: 
20th Century Music
CU Directory Course Number: 
MUSI V3172
Prof. George Lewis

Fall 2014
Music V3172
Section 001
Call Number: 65591 Points: 3 
Day/Time: MW 10:10am-11:25am
Location: To be announced
Instructor: George Lewis (bio)

A multicultural survey of composers, improvisers, sounds, practices and social issues in the music of "the long 20th century." Engages form, technique, genre, style, canon, media reception, constructions of gender and race, cultural nationalisms, and the impact of transnationalism and globalization. Reading knowledge of music is very helpful but not required.

Introduction to Digital Music (MUSI V2205, Fall 2014)

Course Information

Course Title: 
Introduction to Digital Music
CU Directory Course Number: 
MUSI V2205
Prof. Brad Garton

An introduction to the potential of digital synthesis by means of the MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface). The goals of the course, in addition to teaching proficiency in elementary and advanced MIDI techniques, are to challenge some of the assumptions about music built into the MIDI specifications and to foster a creative approach to using MIDI machines. (This course was previously called MIDI Music Production Techniques).

The prerequisite for this course is C1123 or F1123 Masterpieces of Western Music or BC 1001x or 1002y Introduction to Music, or equivalent. 

Due to high demand, prospective students should attend the first meeting of the class, and be aware that placement will be determined by various factors including permission of the instructor. 

Zosha Di Castri Appointed Assistant Professor of Composition!

The Department of Music warmly welcomes and congratulates Zosha Di Castri, who has been appointed as Assistant Professor of Music (Composition).  Prof. Di Castri, who will soon complete her DMA in the Department, will begin her appointment on July 1, 2014

Ms. Di Castri is a Canadian composer/pianist living in New York. Her work (which has been performed in Canada, the US, and Europe) extends beyond purely concert music, including projects with electronics, installations, and collaborations with video and dance. Her latest work, Serafiniana, for solo amplified violin, amplified harp, orchestra, and electronics was premiered in Toronto by Esprit Orchestra in May. Other recent orchestral compositions have been programmed by the San Francisco Symphony, New World Symphony, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, and the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra among others. Zosha has made appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the L.A. Philharmonic in their chamber music series and has worked with many local groups including Talea Ensemble, Wet Ink, Ekmeles, and Ensemble Pamplemousse. She was the recipient of the Jules Leger Prize for New Chamber Music for her work Cortege in 2012, and participated in Ircam's Manifeste Festival, writing an interactive electronic work for Thomas Hauert's dance company ZOO. Upcoming projects include an evening-length collaborative interdisciplinary work with David Adamcyk and ICE, and a piece for the Cecilia String Quartet. Zosha is presently completing her doctorate and will begin a tenure-track appointment in the summer of 2014.

Learn more about Prof. Di Castri's work on her Columbia Composers bio page!

Read an article (with audio samples) about Prof. Di Castri in musicworks magazine.

Music Majors Olivia Harris & Solomon Hoffman Perform & Arrange the National Anthem for Commencement!

On May 22, 2014, for the Columbia University Commencement Ceremony, graduating Columbia College Music Major Olivia Harris, along with fellow students Taylor Harvey and Brittany Carroll-Watts, brilliantly performed a striking arrangement of "The Star Spangled Banner," arranged by Columbia graduating Music Major Solomon Hoffman. 


Enjoy the performance! 


Dr. Ashley Fure Appointed Mellon Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in Music!

The Department of Music is delighted to welcome Dr. Ashley Fure as an incoming Mellon Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in Music for 2014-16. 

Dr. Fure is an American composer interested in chaotic matter and music's ability to convey movement. She works in both acoustic and electroacoustic media and collaborates frequently with artists from other disciplines.  A 2013-14 Fulbright Fellow in France, Fure is currently creating a 65 minute electroacoustic ballet with choreographer Yuval Pick commissioned by IRCAM for the 2014 Manifeste Festival in Paris. She earned a Phd in Music Composition from Harvard University, where she studied with Chaya Czernowin, and further degrees from IRCAM (Cursus 1 and 2), Oberlin Conservatory (B.Mus), and the Interlochen Arts Academy. Notable honors include a 2013 Impuls International Composition Prize, a 2012 Darmstadt Stipendienpreis, a 2012 Staubach Honorarium, a 2011 Jezek Prize, and a 2010 10-month residency at Akademie Schloss Solitude.  

Visit Ashely Fure's website here!

Graduating Seniors Olivia Munson, Josh Owens, & Alexander Porter Win Departmental Honors!

The Department of Music is pleased to announce that Departmental Honors for 2014 are awarded to the following graduating senior music majors:

Alexander Porter (Columbia College) for his project (advised by Prof. Joseph Dubiel), "Of Diagrammatology in Music and Architecture," which included both an extended essay and two original creative works, a composition called "Diachronism" and a short play called "Broken Images."  All were woven together by Alex's stimulating, imaginative exploration of time, memory, and space across both musical and architectural dimensions. A complete PDF version of Alexander's thesis can be downloaded here.

Olivia Munson (Columbia College) for her essay (advised by Prof. Aaron Fox) "A Space for Musical Therapy: On Nationalism, Modernity, Music, and Medicine in the Transition from Ottoman Empire to Turkish Republic."  This essay looks at the use of music for medicinal or therapeutic purposes across broad historical span of Turkish history.  Olivia's essay represents an impressive combination of on-the-ground fieldwork and sophisticated theoretical-historical analysis.