Two of Juilliard’s previous presidents, William Schuman and Peter Mennin, were renowned composers, so it is not surprising that Juilliard’s composition department has a distinguished history. The department remains especially notable for the diversity of styles and approaches represented by its faculty members and alumni. 

The current faculty are among the most respected composers in the field today—their music is heard regularly in concert halls and opera houses; in theaters and on movie soundtracks. Among them they hold the Pulitzer Prize; Grammy and Academy Awards; the Grawemeyer Award; the Kennedy Center Friedheim Award; the Charles Ives Award; the Prix de Rome; grants and fellowships from the Guggenheim, Fulbright, Rockefeller, and other foundations. They are members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and numerous other distinguished organizations. Their works are recorded on all the major labels.

Performance opportunities for student composers include an annual concert by the Juilliard Orchestra, in the Peter Jay Sharp Theater, devoted to student works chosen through a departmental competition. The New Juilliard Ensemble regularly programs works of special merit by Juilliard student composers. Each January, a program of new works by the six teams in the Choreographers and Composers course is presented in Alice Tully Hall. Composition students also take part in a weekly Composers’ Forum, which sponsors three concerts per semester featuring works by student composers.