The Computer and Electronic Music Studio was founded in 1983 with Associate Professor Reza Vali as its director.
In 1987 the Cuarteto Latinoamericano arrived to begin a residency that was to last 20 years.
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Andrés Cárdenes joined the faculty in the late 1980s, a time when student-teacher relationships in the Department of Music were judged to be the best on campus.
Julius Baker, retired principal flute of the New York Philharmonic, joined the faculty in 1990. Later Jeanne Baxtresser, who succeeded Baker as principal flute of the New York Philharmonic, and Alberto Almarza established the studio as perhaps the most competitive flute program in the country.
Under the guidance of James McIntosh, the Department of Music created the first-ever major in bagpipe study in 1991.
In 1990, the Department first auditioned students in China when pianist Hanna Li and Department Head Marilyn Taft Thomas traveled on tour with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Many of the school’s gifted graduate students have since come from Asian countries.