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The Curtis Institute of Music

Prodigies flock to the world’s most select conservatory


The Experience

Legends like Leonard Bernstein and Samuel Barber have studied here, legends like pianists Josef Hofmann and Rudolf Serkin have taught here, and it’s still turning out virtuosos like violinist Hilary Hahn. Annual enrollment, all merit-based and tuition-free, numbers about 160 students from myriad nations, whose ages range from 10 to 26 years.

Curtis graduates perform in most major orchestras in the world, often as principals; half of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s musicians are Curtis alumni. Dozens of events are open to the public including the Curtis Symphony Orchestra (with guest maestros such as Sir Simon Rattle); productions by the Curtis Opera Theatre; and faculty, student and alumni recitals.


Mary Louise Curtis Bok, heir to the Curtis Publishing family, and an early supporter of Philadelphia’s Settlement Music School, founded Curtis in 1924 to ensure that America had an advanced conservatory equal to any in Europe. Crucial to her efforts were conductor Leopold Stokowski and Josef Hofmann, who became the first director.

An ardent champion of new music, the founder supported the world premiere of Gian-Carlo Menotti’s opera, Amelia Goes to the Ball, and many works by Samuel Barber, including the First String Quartet, from which the famous Serenade for Strings was taken.

Insider Tip
Free student recitals in Field Hall, an elegant, 250-seat venue, are presented Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings from October to May.

Kids’ shows
PECO family series (children 5 and up), offers free Saturday and Sunday afternoon concerts in November and February.

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