Curtis Institute of Music
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|Curtis Institute of Music|
The Curtis Institute of Music is a conservatory in Philadelphia that offers courses of study leading to a performance diploma, Bachelor of Music, Master of Music in Opera, or Professional Studies Certificate in Opera.
The institute was established in 1924 by Mary Louise Curtis Bok, who named it in honor of her father, Cyrus Curtis, a notable American publisher. 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.
The institute has served as a training ground for orchestral musicians to fill the ranks of the Philadelphia Orchestra, although composers, organists, pianists, and singers are offered courses of study as well.
All pupils attend on full scholarship and admission is extremely competitive. With the exception of composers, conductors, and pianists, admission is granted only to the number of students to fill a single orchestra and opera company. Accordingly, enrollment is in the range of 150 to 170 students. According to statistics compiled by U.S. News & World Report, the institute has the lowest acceptance rate of any college or university (3.2%), making it the most selective institution of higher education in the United States.
The Curtis Institute accepts students of all races, although there is some evidence that suggests that this policy wasn't very strictly enforced several decades ago: Nina Simone claims that she was rejected in the early 1950s because of her race despite excellent credentials and audition performance, even though, as the Nina Simone article states, George Walker had already graduated from Curtis by the time Simone had applied.
Past directors of the institute have included:
- Josef Hofmann (1926–1938) – pianist
- Randall Thompson (1938–1940) – composer
- Efrem Zimbalist, Sr. (1941–1968) – violinist
- Rudolf Serkin (1968–1976) – pianist
- John de Lancie (1977–1985) – principal oboist of the Philadelphia Orchestra for many years
- Gary Graffman (1986–2006) – pianist, continues on the piano faculty
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. Paul Bryan started his tenure as interim dean in January 2013. 
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Many of its alumni have gone on to notable careers including:
- James Adler, composer
- Milton Adolphus, composer, arranger, pianist
- Joseph Alessi, principal trombonist of the New York Philharmonic
- Adrian Anantawan, violinist
- Reid Anderson, bassist of The Bad Plus
- Shmuel Ashkenasi, first violinist of the Vermeer Quartet
- Jenny Oaks Baker, first violinist of the National Symphony Orchestra
- Rose Bampton, principal singer at the Metropolitan Opera during the 1930s and 1940s
- Samuel Barber, composer
- Diane Meredith Belcher, organist
- Leonard Bernstein, composer and conductor
- James M. Bigham, organist
- Jonathan Biss, pianist
- Natalie Bodanya, opera singer
- Jorge Bolet, pianist
- Gwendolyn Bradley, opera singer
- David Brooks, Broadway actor, stage director and producer
- Yefim Bronfman, piano
- Anshel Brusilow, violinist, conductor
- Norman Carol, concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra
- Jenny Q. Chai, piano
- Keith Chapman, concert organist
- Ray Chen, violinist
- Shura Cherkassky, pianist
- Pearl Chertok, harpist and composer
- Young-Chang Cho, cellist
- Jasmine Choi, flautist
- Nicolas Chumachenco, violinist
- Katherine Ciesinski, mezzo-soprano
- Timothy Cobb, current principal bassist with the Metropolitan Opera
- Vinson Cole, operatic tenor
- Ken Cowan, organist, assistant professor of organ at the Westminster Choir College (Rice University)
- John Dalley, violinist, Oberlin String Quartet 1957–1959, one of four founding members of Guarneri Quartet 1964–2009; faculty
- Miles B. Davis, double bassist, class of 1974 and secretary of the Curtis Alumni Council
- Wu Di, pianist
- John de Lancie, Principal Oboe of the Philadelphia Orchestra, faculty at Curtis and Director of the school 1977–1985 
- Stanley Drucker, principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic
- Julius Eastman, pianist, conductor, singer, composer
- Mohammed Fairouz, composer
- Christopher Falzone, pianist
- Juan Diego Flórez, tenor
- Lukas Foss, composer, conductor and pianist
- Bianca Garcia, flute, politician
- Frank Guarrera, baritone
- Anthony Gigliotti, clarinetist, former principal of the Philadelphia Orchestra
- Alan Gilbert, conductor, music director of the New York Philharmonic
- Richard Goode, pianist
- Olga Gorelli, composer and pianist
- Charles E. Griffin (violist)
- Daron Hagen, composer, conductor, pianist, and stage director
- Hilary Hahn, violinist
- Burt Hara, clarinetist, principal of the Minnesota Orchestra
- Lynn Harrell, cello soloist
- Margaret Harshaw, opera singer
- David Hayes, Music Director of The Philadelphia Singers and Director of Orchestral and Conducting Studies at Mannes College The New School for Music
- Michael Hennagin, composer
- Shuler Hensley, singer and actor
- Jennifer Higdon, composer
- Lee Hoiby, composer
- Stanley Hollingsworth, composer
- David Horne, composer and pianist
- Michael Houstoun (born 1952), concert pianist
- Claire Huangci, pianist
- Eugene Istomin, pianist
- David N. Johnson, composer, organist and professor
- Arnold Jacobs, former tubist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and influential teacher of brass pedagogy (deceased)
- Paul Jacobs, organist, organ professor at the Juilliard School
- Paavo Järvi (conductor), Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra previously, Deutchekammerphilharmonie Bremen
- Stephanie Jeong, Assistant Concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic
- Leila Josefowicz, violinist
- Judy Kang, violinist
- Sean Kennard, pianist
- Chin Kim, violinist, soloist, faculty at the Mannes College of Music and Queens College, City University of New York
- Jennifer Koh, violinist
- Paul Kowert, bassist for Punch Brothers
- Lang Lang, pianist
- Mark Lawrence, principal trombonist of the San Francisco Symphony
- Brenda Lewis, soprano
- Ang Li, pianist
- Cecile Licad, pianist
- Marc Lifschey, oboist
- Joan Lippincott, concert organist, former head of the organ department at the Westminster Choir College
- Peter Lloyd, former principal bassist with the Minnesota Orchestra, Professor of Double Bass at the Colburn School Conservatory of Music
- David Ludwig, composer
- John Mack, oboist
- Amanda Majeski, soprano Chicago Lyric Opera, Frankfurt Opera, Semperoper
- Virginia MacWatters, soprano
- Bobby Martin, pianist, saxophonist, vocalist, most notably with Frank Zappa
- Leon McCawley, pianist
- Jeremy McCoy, current assistant principal bassist with the Metropolitan Opera
- Anthony McGill, principal clarinetist with the Metropolitan Opera
- Gian Carlo Menotti, composer, librettist, and stage director, teacher at the institute
- Frank Miller,cellist
- Anna Moffo, soprano
- Alan Morrison, organist, faculty, Curtis Institute of Music, Westminster Choir College
- Lorne Munroe, cellist, former principal of the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra
- Erik Nielsen, Conductor Frankfurt Opera, Metropolitan Opera, Rome Opera, Semperoper
- Nokuthula Ngwenyama, solo violist, Indiana University faculty
- Lambert Orkis, pianist, Temple University Faculty
- Sean Osborn,clarinet soloist, formerly with the Metropolitan Opera
- Eric Owens, bass-baritone
- Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt, violist
- Rob Patterson, Clarinet, University of Virginia, Lyrique-en-Mer, VERGE Ensemble
- Joanne Pearce Martin, piano
- Janet Perry, soprano
- Vincent Persichetti, composer
- Eytan Pessen, Accompanist and opera director.
- Richard Purvis, composer and organist, Grace Cathedral, San Francisco
- André Raphel, conductor of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra
- Gianna Rolandi, soprano, director of the Lyric Opera of Chicago's Ryan Opera Center
- Ned Rorem, composer, pianist, and writer
- Aaron Rosand, violinist
- Leonard Rose, cellist and teacher at the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School
- Matthew Rose, bass vocalist
- Nino Rota, composer and film composer
- Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, violinist
- Andre-Michel Schub, pianist
- Kathryn Selby, pianist
- Peter Serkin, pianist
- Rinat Shaham, mezzo-soprano
- David Shifrin, clarinet soloist, professor at the Yale School of Music
- Benjamin Shwartz, conductor
- Jacques Singer, conductor
- Muriel Smith, mezzo-soprano
- Ignat Solzhenitsyn, Former music director of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia
- Josef Špaček, violinist, concertmaster of the Czech Philharmonic and renowned soloist
- Robert Spano, conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
- Leslie Spotz, pianist
- Susan Starr, pianist
- Arnold Steinhardt, violinist
- Michael Stern, music director and lead conductor of the Kansas City Symphony
- Mimi Stillman, flutist
- Michael Strauss, violist
- Jennifer Stumm, violist
- Kay Swift, composer
- Michael Tree (née Applebaum), violist, violinist, founding member of the Guarnieri String Quartet
- Henri Temianka, violinist, conductor
- Benita Valente, soprano
- Yuja Wang, pianist
- Wendy Warner, cellist
- Peter Wiley, cellist with Beaux Arts Trio and Guarneri Quartet, Curtis faculty 
- 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.
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- "Best Colleges: Top 100 – Lowest Acceptance Rates" (as of "Fall 2011 Acceptance rate"). U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
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