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) | 2021 (canceled)


Dates: June 26 - July 10

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

Composition students will take private composition lessons with Viennese and international 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 be given a choice amongst our three guest ensembles, who will perform one piece.  The instrumentation icarus Quartet consists of two pianists and two percussionists. PHACE, a professional contemporary music ensemble residing in Vienna, offers any combination of instruments including: flute, clarinet, piano, percussion, violin, viola, cello, and double bass.  All ensembles 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


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.

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Contemporary Music Ensemble

We are happy to announce that loadbang will join our program in 2022!  Participants of the Instrumental Composition Program will have their music performed by loadbang.  New York City-based new music chamber group loadbang is building a new kind of music for mixed ensemble of trumpet, trombone, bass clarinet, and baritone voice. Learn more here.

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icarus Quartet

Contemporary Music Ensemble

Like the mythological figure from which it draws its name, the half piano/half percussion icarus Quartet dares to fly towards the sun, aspiring to new heights of artistry. Following their Carnegie Hall debut, composer Paul Lansky simply remarked, “This is music making of the highest order.”  You can learn more about icarus Quartet here.


The PolyMuse Orchestra

Contemporary Chamber Orchestra

On the one hand, the PolyMuse Orchestra has committed itself to supporting young international musicians in order to be able to establish themselves on the Austrian music market, and on the other hand to enriching and further developing the current, classical Viennese concert world. It offers an annual concert program with a good mix of well-known classical as well as unknown and contemporary works. The repertoire ranges from works of the early baroque to the latest symphonic miniatures and major opera cycles and is constantly being seasonally designed in cooperation with well-known soloists.


Irvine Arditti

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


Applicants for the Composers Forum should submit two original scores that best represent their skill as a composer; there are no stylistic restrictions. 


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

Instrumental Composition Deadline: (extended) April 15, 2022


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.