BMI Foundation Student Composer Award

Deadline: February
Website: Link
Disciplines: Arts and Humanities
Years: Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior


The BMI Student Composer Awards is a competition for young composers of classical music. Founded in 1951, the competition has become one of the most coveted and prestigious awards for young composers in the Western Hemisphere.

Co-sponsored by the BMI Foundation and by BMI, the awards are made on an annual basis for compositions submitted by students actively engaged in the study of music and all works are judged under pseudonyms. The current Advisory Board for the competition includes John C. Adams, Del Byant, Elliott Carter, George Crumb, Susan Feder, Ralph N. Jackson, Lalo Schifrin, Gunther Schuller, and Joseph Schwantner. The Awards Chair is Ellen Taaffe Zwilich.

A special William Schuman Prize, given in memory of the late William Schuman, who served for 40 years as Chairman, then Chairman Emeritus, of the BMI Student Composer Awards, is awarded to the composer whose work is judged “most outstanding” in the competition. Additionally, two special Carlos Surinach Prizes, underwritten by a fund established by the late composer, are awarded annually to the two youngest winners of the competition. 

Specific Eligibility Criteria

Applicants must be citizens of countries in the Western Hemisphere and must be either enrolled in accredited public, private or parochial secondary schools, in accredited colleges or conservatories of music, or engaged in private study of music with recognized and established teachers. Applicants must be under the age of 28 as of the competition postmark deadline. The postmark deadline is usually in early February and applications are available as of the preceding November.