Curtis Institute of Music

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Curtis Institute of Music
Curtis Institute of Music Logo
TypePrivate conservatory
Established1924; 99 years ago (1924)
Endowment$253.2 million (2019)[1]
PresidentRoberto Díaz
ProvostEdward Gazouleas
DirectorRoberto Díaz
Location, ,
United States
WebsiteOfficial website

The Curtis Institute of Music is a private conservatory in Philadelphia. It offers a performance diploma, Bachelor of Music, Master of Music in opera, and a Professional Studies Certificate in opera. All students attend on full scholarship.


Curtis Institute of Music in Center City Philadelphia, September 2006

The Curtis Institute of Music was founded in 1924 by Mary Louise Curtis Bok. She named the new school for her father, publishing magnate Cyrus Curtis. Early faculty at the institute included conductor Leopold Stokowski and the pianist Josef Hofmann.[citation needed]

The institute has not charged tuition since 1928; it provides full scholarship to all admitted students.[2]

In 2020, following credible allegations of abuse at the hands of past faculty, the school ended its practice of keeping students enrolled "at the discretion of their major instrument teacher". In accepting the findings of an independent investigation of abuse allegations that found the practice was a "real threat" a student "could be dismissed for any reason at any time", Curtis pledged several other steps to ensure students' well-being, including providing them with access to counseling.[3]


The institute formerly served as a training ground for orchestral musicians to fill the ranks of the Philadelphia Orchestra, although composers, organists, pianists, guitarists, and singers are offered courses of study as well.

With the exception of composers, conductors, pianists, organists, and guitarists, 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 175 students. According to statistics compiled by U.S. News & World Report, the institute has the lowest acceptance rate of any college or university (4 percent), making it among the most selective institutions of higher education in the United States.[4][5]

Nina Simone claimed her application for a scholarship was rejected because of her race, despite excellent credentials and audition performance. Simone was one of 75 pianists to audition in 1951; only three were accepted.[6][7][8] A short while before her death, Simone was awarded an honorary diploma by Curtis.[7]

Notable faculty[edit]

Eleanor Sokoloff was a piano teacher at the institute, beginning during her studies in 1936, and serving until her death in 2020.[9]

Penelope P. Watkins Ensemble in Residence[edit]

The Dover Quartet is the Penelope P. Watkins Ensemble in Residence at Curtis. Their faculty residency integrates teaching and mentorship, and the resident ensemble will recruit promising young string quartets to nurture a new generation of professional chamber ensembles.


Gould Rehearsal Hall

Gould Rehearsal Hall[edit]

Gould Rehearsal Hall A 2,850-square-foot, acoustically designed rehearsal hall accommodates a full orchestra, with state-of-the-art video and audio capabilities.[10]

Field Concert Hall

Field Concert Hall[edit]

Field Concert Hall, a 240-seat auditorium with splendid acoustics and facilities for video- and audio-recording, is used for weekly student recitals, faculty and alumni concerts, master classes, and recording sessions. It also houses a 5-manual, 116-rank Aeolian-Skinner organ.[10]

Rock Resource Center[edit]

The Rock Resource Center of the Curtis Institute of Music contains more than 100,000 music scores, books, and recordings for study and performance. Comprising the John de Lancie Library and the Curtis Archives, the Rock Resource Center’s mission is to: provide Curtis students, faculty, and staff with the best possible collection of printed music, books, periodicals, recordings, and electronic resources needed to fulfill the school's mission; promote the Rock Resource Center's holdings through forward thinking and open patron service; and preserve and make Curtis’s past accessible to the greater Curtis community. The Curtis Archives comprises largely unpublished materials whose value derives from its collection by, ownership of, or relation to, a Curtis-affiliated individual. Non-Curtis collections of published and unpublished materials, as well as published materials by anyone (Curtis-related or not), can be found in Special Collections. Official Curtis recordings are a part of the library collection. [10]

Notable people[edit]


Many alumni of the Curtis Institute have gone on to distinguished careers including:



Faculty and administrators[edit]

Past directors[edit]

Past directors of the institute have included:

Current administrators[edit]

Roberto Díaz is president and director of the institute. Díaz 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.[19]


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2019. "U.S. and Canadian 2019 NTSE Participating Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2019 Endowment Market Value, and Percentage Change in Market Value from FY18 to FY19 (Revised)". National Association of College and University Business Officers and TIAA. Retrieved September 25, 2020.
  2. ^ "Financial Aid". Curtis Institute of Music. Retrieved 2023-01-18.
  3. ^ Anastasia Tsioulcas [1] Top Music School Finds Sexual Abuse Allegations From Violinist 'Credible', September 23, 2020. NPR. Retrieved on 20 March 2022.
  4. ^ Michael Tanenbaum (January 29, 2016). "Curtis Institute of Music ranked most selective college in U.S." Philly Voice. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  5. ^ "Curtis Institute of Music". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  6. ^ Eric Wendell. "Simone, Nina (Eunice Kathleen Waymon)". Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians. Archived from the original on March 22, 2016. Retrieved May 2, 2012.
  7. ^ a b Dobrin, Peter (August 14, 2015). "Curtis Institute and the case of Nina Simone". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  8. ^ Fiorillo, Victor (12 May 2019). "Nina Simone's Complicated Relationship With Philadelphia". Philadelphia Magazine. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  9. ^ "Eleanor Sokoloff". Curtis Institute of Music. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  10. ^ a b c "Campus and Facilities".
  11. ^ "Artistic Leadership". Curtis Institute of Music. Retrieved October 31, 2013.
  12. ^ "Noted violist Joseph de Pasquale dies at 95". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
  13. ^ "Michael Houstoun". Timaru District Council. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 February 2013. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
  14. ^ "Amanda Majeski". Oper Frankfurt Season 2013/2014. Oper Frankfurt. Archived from the original on November 1, 2013. Retrieved October 30, 2013.
  15. ^ Chadbourne, Eugene. Robert A. Martin at AllMusic. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  16. ^ "Eytan Pessen". Opera Narodowa. Retrieved October 30, 2013.
  17. ^ Wakin, Daniel J. (October 21, 2009). "A Tearful (and Lucrative) Parting of Virtuoso and Violin". The New York Times.
  18. ^ "Peter Wiley, Faculty Bios by Name". The Curtis Institute of Music. Retrieved October 31, 2013.
  19. ^ "Roberto Díaz, President". Curtis Institute of Music. Archived from the original on 2010-04-18. Retrieved 2013-10-30.

External links[edit]

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