Composers FORUM


The Composers Forum is geared towards individuals who are pursuing the craft of composition and receiving professional performances of their works, attending masterclasses, and immersing themselves in the compositional world of Vienna, Austria and all that it has to offer.  Interested participants can apply to one of two categories: Instrumental Composition and Opera Composition.  Each admitted composers will receive a performance of their new work. 

Previous editions: 2018 | 2019 | 2020 (canceled)


Dates: July 14 - 28

A major highlight of this festival is our participants having their music performed by world class contemporary performers such as PHACE and Irvine Arditti. 

Composition students will take private composition lessons with Viennese composers and attend lectures/masterclasses on contemporary music and advanced theory topics.  

Amongst the guest faculty, prominent composers such as Lei Liang, Pierluigi Billone, Beat Furrer, Oliver Weber, Ulrich Drechsler, Reinhard Fuchs, Clemens Gadenstätter, and other visiting guests will join the festival. 

Participants will have their pieces performed by PHACE, a professional contemporary music ensemble residing in Vienna.  Participants can write for any combination of instruments including: flute, clarinet, piano, percussion, violin, viola, cello, and double bass.  PHACE will perform the new pieces at the VSMF: Contemporary Music Concerts. 

Students will also work with Irvine Arditti, from the Arditti Quartet, who will workshop and record selected student pieces for solo violin or string quartet. 

TUITION: €3750

Includes: housing, private lessons, facilities, faculty, masterclasses, visiting guests, cultural excursions, ensemble hires


Dates: July 7 - 28

We at the Vienna Summer Music Festival are proud to announce that we will be producing new opera works as part of the festival.  We will admit four individuals who have specialized interest in composing for opera and who show promise as a 21st century opera composers.  These individuals will have the opportunity to have their opera premiered in Vienna and work closely with music directors, stage directors, and singers.  Composers will work closely with their assigned director to discuss the details of the production including props, costumes, and expression. Each work will be premiered on the same night in one Vienna’s premiere concert halls, culminating in the VSMF Contemporary Opera Night.   


Submitted works should not exceed 20 – 25 minutes and can comprise of any number of voices.  The work can also be in progress, however the work should be completed and piano reductions of the works should be submitted by December 15th with a complete score/parts must be submitted by April 15th.  A list of available instruments will be announced January 1st for each participant admitted to the VSMF Composers Forum – Nano Opera. 

TUITION: €4250

Includes: housing, private lessons, facilities, faculty, masterclasses, visiting guests, cultural excursions, ensemble hires


Private Lessons

Composition students will receive private composition lessons with prominent Viennese composers. All participants will work on a project that will be developed during their stay in Vienna and presented for a discussion amongst their peers and faculty.


Composers are obliged to attend all rehearsals of their compositions and are expected to work closely with the ensemble and music director in order to ensure a successful performance of their work.


Composers will have the opportunity to have their works critiqued by visiting guest artists. Master Classes will be conducted with visiting guest artists and are open to all festival participants to observe.


Seminars will be given by our visiting guest faculty on their particular area of research and will consist of advanced topics in composition and compositional processes chosen by the professors.


VSMF Provides professional opportunities for all admitted participants



Contemporary Music Ensemble

Participants of the Instrumental Composition Program will have their music performed by PHACE.  PHACE is a premiere contemporary music ensemble who performs around the world and regularly commissions leading composers.  You can learn more about PHACE here.



Premiere a short opera with the VSMF Vocal Arts Program

The VSMF is excited to announce that we are accepting four composers for our Opera Composition program.  Accepted individuals for this program will have a one act opera performed in conjunction with the vocal arts program.  Composers must submit a piano score by December 1st and completed orchestration by April 15th.  Instrumentation will be discussed after the admittance of a participant.  There are stylistic restrictions.



Work with the legendary Irvine Arditti of the Arditti Quartet

The VSMF is proud to have Irvine Arditti, founder of the contemporary string quartet Arditti Quartet join the faculty.  Mr. Arditti will perform and record works for solo violin.  Participants of the Instrumental Composition Program will have access to this opportunity.  Please click here to watch Irvine Arditti's interview given during our 2018 edition.

Meet the VSMF Composition Faculty

Our world-class faculty have major careers working as composers and performers championing new music


Irvine Arditti

In addition to his legendary career as first violinist of the Arditti Quartet, Irvine Arditti has also given life to many solo works.(Click here to learn more)

Lei Liang

Chinese-born American composer Lei Liang (b.1972) is the winner of the Rome Prize, the recipient of a Guggenheim...(Click here to learn more)

Reinhard Fuchs

Reinhard Fuchs, born in 1974, first studied accordion at the Bruckner-Conservatory Linz (1991-1995). After that he completed his studies...

(Click here to learn more)


Pierluigi Billone

Born in 1960 in Italy, Pierluigi Billone lives in Vienna. He studied composition with Salvatore Sciarrino and Helmut Lachenmann.

(Click here to learn more)

Šimon Voseček

Born in 1978, Czech composer and chansonnier Šimon Voseček studied composition at the Prague National Conservatory under Otomar Kvĕch following early lessons taken in piano and organ.

(Click here to learn more)


Ulrich Drechsler

The award-winning saxophonist & bass clarinetist Ulrich Drechsler has been working as a freelance musician & composer in the field of contemporary...

(Click here to learn more)


Anthony Green

The creative output of Anthony R. Green (composer, performer, social justice) includes musical and visual creations, interpretations of original, contemporary, and repertoire works, collaborations...

(Click here to learn more)


Clemens Gadenstätter

Clemens Gadenstätter, born in 1966, studied composition in Vienna and then Stuttgart under Helmut Lachenmann. 

(Click here to learn more)

Oliver Weber

Oliver Weber studied musicology at the University of Zurich as well as organ with Janine Lehmann and private composition lessons with Rudolf Kelterborn in Basel.(Click here to learn more)

Diogo Carvalho

Diogo Carvalho, born in São Paulo, Brazil, began his musical studies at the age of four. He is a composer, scholar, performer, and professor...

(Click here to learn more)


Applicants for the Composers Forum should submit two original scores that best represent their skill as a composer; there are no stylistic restrictions. If applying for the Opera Composition Program, please submit one aria from your opera, it can be a work in progress. Should you be selected for an interview, we ask that you describe to us the nature of your opera and casting.


All application materials including YouTube links, audio files, and scores should be submitted via a single link to an approved file sharing site such as Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, or iCloud, or by mail to For questions regarding submitting via file sharing visit the application section of the FAQ page.

Scores should be submitted in PDF format, and recordings of these works should be submitted in MP3 or MIDI files. Files names should include the applicant’s first and last name, program of interest, and the creation date of the score and recording.(Example: Emily Brown_Composition Forum_08/18.MP3)


All applicants should receive an initial response in 3-5 business days.

An application fee of $35 is required for submission.




Scholarships are available, and will be awarded up to €1,500 to select applicants. For those applicants that are interested in applying for scholarship, a brief scholarship application essay of no more than 500 words answering the question, “What are your career goals, and how would a scholarship to the Vienna Summer Music Festival help you achieve those goals?”, and a list of references should be sent in addition to application materials. The subject line should contain the applicant’s first and last name, program of interest, and the text “Scholarship Essay.” Interested applicants will receive scholarship funds based upon their submitted audition materials and essay.


Scholarship Application Requirements:


1) 500 word Scholarship Essay answering, “What are your career goals, and how would a scholarship to the Vienna Summer Music Festival help you achieve those goals?”

2) A list of two to three references (please include contact information)

All scholarship application materials should be emailed to

Opera Composition Deadline: March 15th, 2021

Instrumental Composition Deadline: May 15th, 2021


The VSMF Composers Forum 2019 edition

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Our 2019 edition had the premiere of Trimor Dhomi's opera and a set of fantastic pieces for PHACE ensemble.  Participants enjoyed several tours, masterclasses, and lectures, including a guided visit to the Secession Building and a fantastic lecture by Schoenberg scholar Áine Heneghan.

The masterclasses and recording sessions with world renowned contemporary performer Irvine Arditti were a major highlight this year.  Mr. Arditti was delighted to record VSMF composers' works.



The VSMF Composers Forum 2018 edition

A very talented group attended our 2018 edition, having their music performed during two wonderful concerts by PHACE ensemble.  Besides attending lectures, masterclasses, and PHACE rehearsals, participants enjoyed a guided tour at the Arnold Schoenberg Center, and attended several concerts in Konzerthaus and Odeon.  Irvine Arditti joined the group for a few days, giving an interview, workshopping solo violin pieces, and giving a lecture on the history of the modern violin.