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. It is among the most selective institutes of higher education in the world with a 4.8% admissions rate.
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)
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 ($169,000,000 in current dollar terms) in 1927.
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.
All pupils attend on full scholarship and admission is extremely competitive. With the exception of composers, conductors, pianists, 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 170 students. According to statistics compiled by U.S. News & World Report, the institute has the lowest acceptance rate of any college or university (4.8%), making it among the most selective institutions of higher education in the United States.
Past directors of the institute have included:
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.
Many of its alumni have gone on to distinguished careers including:
- Teddy Abrams, Music Director of the Louisville Orchestra
- 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
- Michael Alden Bayard, percussionist and founder/owner of Rhythm Magic
- Diane Meredith Belcher, organist
- Leonard Bernstein, composer and conductor
- Jonathan Biss, pianist
- Judith Blegen, soprano
- Natalie Bodanya, opera singer
- Jorge Bolet, pianist and erstwhile Head of Piano at the Curtis Institute
- Gwendolyn Bradley, opera singer
- David Brooks, Broadway actor, stage director and producer
- Yefim Bronfman, piano
- Anshel Brusilow, violinist, conductor
- Alyson Cambridge (born 1980), operatic soprano and classical music, jazz, and American popular song singer
- Jenny Q. Chai, piano
- Keith Chapman, concert organist
- Ray Chen, violinist
- Cheng Wai, pianist
- Shura Cherkassky, pianist
- Pearl Chertok, harpist and composer
- Young-Chang Cho, cellist
- Jasmine Choi, flutist
- Nicolas Chumachenco, violinist
- Katherine Ciesinski, mezzo-soprano
- Layla Claire, soprano
- Tim 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 1957-59, 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
- Di Wu, pianist
- John de Lancie, principal oboe of the Philadelphia Orchestra, faculty at Curtis and Director of the school 1977-85 
- Joseph de Pasquale, violist, faculty at Curtis 1964-2015 
- Stanley Drucker, principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic
- Julius Eastman, pianist, conductor, singer, composer
- Christopher Falzone, concert pianist, improviser and transcriber
- Mohammed Fairouz, composer
- 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
- Max Goberman, conductor
- Richard Goode, pianist
- Valerie Muzzolini Gordon, harpist, principal of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra
- Olga Gorelli, composer and pianist
- Daron Hagen, composer, conductor, pianist, and stage director
- Hilary Hahn, violinist
- Burt Hara, clarinetist, principal of the Minnesota Orchestra
- Lynn Harrell, cello soloist
- Margaret Rosezarian Harris, conductor
- 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
- Daniel Heifetz, violinist; founder of the Heifetz International Music Institute
- Michael Hennagin, composer
- Shuler Hensley, singer and actor
- Sarah Hicks, conductor
- 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 teacher of brass pedagogy (deceased)
- Paul Jacobs, organist, organ professor at the Juilliard School
- Paavo Järvi (conductor), Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra previously, Deutchekammerphilharmonie Bremen
- Leila Josefowicz, violinist
- Judy Kang, violinist
- Leonard Kastle, composer, screenwriter, and film director
- Sean Kennard, pianist
- Nina Kennedy, pianist, conductor, and filmmaker
- Chin Kim, violinist, soloist, faculty at the Mannes College of Music and Queens College, City University of New York
- Jonah Kim, cellist, conductor, composer
- Jennifer Koh, violinist
- Paul Kowert, bassist for Punch Brothers
- Lang Lang, pianist
- Mark Lawrence, principal trombonist of the San Francisco Symphony
- Theodore Lettvin, pianist
- 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
- David Ludwig, composer
- John Mack, oboist
- Amanda Majeski, soprano Chicago Lyric Opera, Frankfurt Opera, Semperoper
- Virginia MacWatters, soprano
- Robert "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
- Christina Naughton, pianist
- Michelle Naughton, pianist
- 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
- 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 and Director of the Curtis Institute
- 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 ?pa?ek, 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
- Laila Storch oboist, Marcel Tabuteau's biographer
- Jennifer Stumm, violist
- Kay Swift, composer
- Michael Tree (née Applebaum), violist, violinist, founding member of the Guarneri 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 
- Haochen Zhang, pianist, Gold Medalist/First Prize winner of the 2009 Thirteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition
- ^ As of May 31, 2017. "The Curtis Institute of Music Financial Statements 2017 and 2016" (PDF). The Curtis Institute. Retrieved 2018.
- ^ "Curtis Institute of Music". U.S. News & World Report. U.S. News & World Report LP. Retrieved 2016.
- ^ Stoddard, Maynard Good (2000). "A Legacy of Music". The Saturday Evening Post. vLex. 272 (1). Archived from the original on November 2, 2013. Retrieved 2013.
- ^ "Roberto Díaz, President". Curtis Institute of Music. Retrieved .
- ^ Dobrin, Peter (January 8, 2013). "Curtis Institute dean exits". philly.com. Interstate General Media, LLC. Retrieved 2013.
- ^ "Council". Archive.is: Curtis Institute of Music. Curtis Institute of Music. 2004. Archived from the original on 2004-09-04. Retrieved 2013.
- ^ "Artistic Leadership". Curtis Institute of Music. Retrieved 2013.
- ^ "Noted violist Joseph de Pasquale dies at 95". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2016.
- ^ "Michael Houstoun". Timaru District Council. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 February 2013. Retrieved 2013.
- ^ "Amanda Majeski". Oper Frankfurt Season 2013/2014. Oper Frankfurt. Archived from the original on November 1, 2013. Retrieved 2013.
- ^ Chadbourne, Eugene. Robert A. Martin at AllMusic. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
- ^ "Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt, Viola (Biography)". Instant Encore. InstantEncore.com. Retrieved 2013.
- ^ "Dover Quartet". The Dover Quartet. Retrieved 2013.
- ^ "Eytan Pessen". Opera Narodowa. Retrieved 2013.
- ^ Daniel J. Wakin, "A Tearful (and Lucrative) Parting of Virtuoso and Violin", The New York Times. October 21, 2009.
- ^ "Peter Wiley, Faculty Bios by Name". The Curtis Institute of Music. Retrieved 2013.
Coordinates: 39°56?56?N 75°10?14?W / 39.9488°N 75.1706°W