Curtis Institute of Music: Wikis


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The Curtis Institute of Music
Established 1924
Type Private
Endowment $130.5 million[1]
President Roberto Díaz
Director Roberto Díaz
Students 167
Location 1726 Locust Street
, Pennsylvania, United States
Campus Urban

The Curtis Institute of Music is a conservatory in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that offers courses of study leading to a performance Diploma, Bachelor of Music, Master of Music in Opera, and Professional Studies Certificate in Opera. According to statistics compiled by U.S. News & World Report, it has the lowest acceptance rate of any institution of higher education in the United States.[2]

Looking southeast from Rittenhouse Square toward The Curtis Institute's Main Building at the corner of Locust Street (on the left) and South 18th Street (on the right) (2006).



It was established in 1924 by Mary Louise Curtis Bok, and was named in honor of her father, Cyrus Curtis. After consulting with musician friends including Josef Hofmann and Leopold Stokowski on how best to help musically gifted young people, Bok purchased three mansions on Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square and had them joined and renovated. She established a faculty of prominent performing artists and eventually left the institute with an endowment of US$12 million. [3]


The institute has served as a training ground for orchestral players to fill the ranks of the Philadelphia Orchestra, much like the New England Conservatory serves as a training ground for the Boston Symphony Orchestra,[4] although composers, organists, pianists and singers are offered courses of study as well.

All pupils attend on full scholarship, but admission is extremely competitive. Besides composers, conductors, organists pianists and singers, only enough students are admitted to fill a single orchestra. Accordingly, enrollment is in the range of 150 to 170 students. The acceptance rate is about one half that of comparable conservatories such as the Cleveland Institute of Music, and one third that of Ivy League institutions such as Dartmouth College.[citation needed]

Nina Simone

At age 17 Nina Simone moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she encountered more racism when applying for a scholarship at the Curtis Institute. She failed to get a scholarship despite what was reported as an excellent audition. At first she was told that the rejection was based on her performance, but later an insider explained her that the real reason was because she was black. With the help of a private tutor she studied for an interview to further study piano at the Curtis Institute, but she was rejected. Simone believed that this rejection was related directly to her being black, as well as being a woman.[5]

Only two days before her death, Simone was awarded an honorary diploma by the Curtis Institute, the school that had turned her down at the start of her career.



Past directors

Past directors of the institute have included:

Current administration

As of March 2010, Roberto Diaz is President and director of the Institute. Diaz is also a Curtis alumnus and faculty member. He was principal violist of the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1996 to 2006 and is a member of the Diaz Trio.[6]

As of March 2010, Otto-Werner Mueller is the conductor of the Curtis Symphony Orchestra.[7]

Notable alumni

Many of its alumni have gone on to notable careers including:




  1. ^ As of June 30, 2009. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2009 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2008 to FY 2009" (PDF). 2009 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. National Association of College and University Business Officers. Retrieved March 8, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Best Colleges: Top 100 — Lowest Acceptance Rates" (as of "Fall 2008 Acceptance rate"). U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved November 30, 2009.
  3. ^ Stoddard, Maynard Good (January 1, 2000). "A Legacy of Music. The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia". The Saturday Evening Post.  Accessed May 11, 2009
  4. ^ Fact Sheets, New England Conservatory
  5. ^ "L'hommage: Nina Simone Biography". Retrieved 2007-08-14. 
  6. ^ "The Curtis Institute of Music". Curtis Institute of Music. Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  7. ^ "The Curtis Institute of Music". Curtis Institute of Music. Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  8. ^ "The Curtis Institute of Music". Curtis Institute of Music. 2009-10-10. Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  9. ^ Daniel J. Wakin, "A Tearful (and Lucrative) Parting of Virtuoso and Violin", The New York Times. October 21, 2009.

External links

Coordinates: 39°56′56″N 75°10′14″W / 39.9488°N 75.1706°W / 39.9488; -75.1706


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