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Musical composition at Cambridge has flourished for most of the 20th century and shows no signs of abating in the 21st century. A significant proportion of the past professors have been composers – Stanford, Hadley, Orr, Goehr – and a selective list of former students who have made name and fame over the last 40 years or so speaks for itself: Thomas Adès, Julian Anderson, George Benjamin, David Blake, Diana Burrell, Jonathan Dove, Alexander Goehr, Patrick Hadley, Jonathan Harvey, Robin Holloway, Benedict Mason, Peter-Paul Nash, Robin Orr, Julian Phillips, Edward Rushton, Robert Saxton, Charles Villiers Stanford, Huw Watkins, Judith Weir, Ryan Wigglesworth and Hugh Wood.

In recent decades this record has owed much to the presence of distinguished composers working within the Faculty of Music, including Alexander Goehr, Hugh Wood, Robin Holloway, and Ryan Wigglesworth. With the appointment in 2012 of Richard Causton a new chapter in composition at Cambridge opened up; other leading composers are employed by the colleges, with Jeremy Thurlow offering undergraduate and graduate teaching in the Faculty on a regular basis. John Hopkins, another of the Faculty’s composers, organises a weekly workshop which is open to under- and post-graduate composers from all years. Also of vital importance are the exceptional opportunities for performance in Cambridge, with its wealth of college chapel choirs and organs, its various university orchestras and choruses, and above all the spread of vocal, instrumental and conducting talent in the student body at large.

Cambridge provides almost unrivalled opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate composers, the interests of the latter being catered for within the Faculty of Music by the M.Phil in Musical Composition, and by the inclusion of composition within the doctoral programme from 2012.

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