The two Hungarians not only played music, they were themselves the music – in every nerve – down to their fingertips.

Adelheid von Schorn on Reményi and Liszt

Admission requirements for MA - Composition

In case of non-instrumental majors, tuition is only offered in English if there are a minimum of 3 international students admitted in a given year to the same major.


Performing two pieces by heart: at least one invention by J.S. Bach, one Viennese Classical Sonata, a piece from the Romantic or from the 20th or 21st century period.


Form and Analysis

Written part

A test based on the book Fundamentals of Musical Composition by Arnold Schönberg. Analysis of a Viennese Classical or a Romantic and a 20th century or contemporary composition.

Oral part

Evaluation of the written part.



Task to complete on the spot

Orchestration of a couple of measures taken from a piano piece from the Romantic period or from the 20th century, employing a full orchestra of a style that suits the given extract.

Task based on the candidate's previously orchestrated material

Presentation of the candidate's knowledge and skills in orchestration by orchestrating a Romantic piece and a piece from the first half of the 20th century, employing a full orchestra

Task to complete on the spot

digital orchestratation of a four-part piece using a sampler and a sequencer software


Score reading

Sight reading of a piece from the Viennese Classical or the Romantic period and from the 20th century or contemporary period.
Analysis of a contemporary graphic music notation


Personal interview

The applicant will talk about her/his artistic beliefs, personal goals and demonstrate proficiency in contemporary music generally.



Free composition:

a) Presentation of one vocal and one instrumental composition (or excerpt).  One of the two compositions should preferably be written for a large instrumental ensemble.  Both pieces may employ electronics (tape, live electronics, computer music, MIDI etc.). If neither of the pieces employ electronics, it is advisable to present a separate electronic composition or etude.

b) Presentation of a fixed electroacoustic music piece and another piece applying live electronics with an acoustic instrument

The pieces submitted together must not exceed 25-30 minutes.


Style exercises:

  • 1 – (at least) three parts fugue in the style of J.S.Bach
  • 1 movement of a Viennese Classical sonata (either in a sonata or a sonata rondo form) in the style of J Haydn, W.A.Mozart or L. van Beethoven.
  • 1 short etude in the style of any significant composer of the 20th century


a) (recommended for candidates with a degree in Composition or Electronic Music Composition)


Written part:

The basics of electronic music: test*



  • the history of electronic music (Edgare Varése, concrete music/Paris, electronic music/Cologne, IRCAM/Paris, RAI/Milano, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Iannis Xenakis, Alvin Lucier, Jean-Claude Risset, John Chowning, Jonathan Harvey)
  • the basic parameters of sound: frequency, amplitude, amplitude envelope)
  • the representations of sounds (waveform, 2D spectrum, sonogram)
  • the structure of sound, the types of sounds (harmonic sound, inharmonic sound, noise)
  • sound systems, tunings
  • the parameters of digitalized sounds (sampling rate, Nyquist sampling theorem, bits)
  • sound synthesis techniques (additive, subtractive, FM, granular synthesis)


Oral part:

The basics of electronic music: a practical task to be completed on a computer.

To complete one of the following tasks:

  • mounting using the programme ProTools
  • writing algorhythmical music using the programme MAX/MSP
  • sound synthesis using the programme MAX/MSP or CSound

Additional information: those students who have not studied electronic music before have to complete two semesters of the course ‘The basics of electronic composition'




b) (recommended for candidates with a degree in Composing for Theater and Motion Picture)

Candidates have to present their work related to theater and motion picture and demonstrate proficiency in this field. 



Total score: 100

  • 2 out of 100 reserved for bonus points
  • Composition as main subject – compulsory part: 62 pts
  • Composition as main subject – compulsory part with options to choose from: 10 pts
  • Orchestration: 10 pts
  • Form and analysis (written and oral part): 6 pts
  • Score reading: 2 pts
  • Secondary piano: 6 pts
  • Personal interview: 2 pts

The Composition Department of the Liszt Academy can be contacted if candidates need help with finding literature.


The first five parts of the examination are:

orchestration, form and analysis, score reading, secondary piano and personal interview. In case the number of points received by a candidate does not add up to at least 15 points; a candidate fails (0 pt) in any of these parts; does not receive at least 3 pts for the form and analysis part, does not receive at least 3 pts for the secondary piano part, cannot qualify for the composition as main subject examination, and the total score of his/her exam points is 0.