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Curtis Overview

The Curtis Institute of Music educates and trains exceptionally gifted young musicians to engage a local and global community through the highest level of artistry.

One of the world's leading music schools, Curtis is highly selective, with an enrollment of about 175. In this nurturing environment, students receive personalized attention from a celebrated faculty. A busy schedule of performances is at the heart of Curtis’s distinctive "learn by doing" approach, which has produced an impressive number of notable artists, from such legends as Leonard Bernstein and Samuel Barber to current stars Juan Diego Flórez, Alan Gilbert, Hilary Hahn, Jennifer Higdon, Leila Josefowicz, and Lang Lang.


Curtis provides full-tuition scholarships to all of its students, ensuring that admissions are based on artistic promise alone. Enrollment is limited to the number of musicians needed for a symphony orchestra, opera department, and select programs in piano, guitar, composition, conducting, organ, and harpsichord.


Students at Curtis enjoy a wealth of opportunities to perform, listen, and learn. As America’s most selective music conservatory, Curtis's high standard for entry ensures that students rehearse and perform alongside musical peers. Curtis's student body is international and multicultural, and there is no minimum or maximum age to audition. In a uniquely nurturing environment, the school's superb faculty encourages students at every step to grow as artists and as members of the Curtis community.


Faculty members at Curtis include a high proportion of performing musicians with eminent careers who connect students to life as a successful professional musician today. Their unmatched musical lineage, in turn, links students to the masters of the classical age. Curtis’s ninety-member faculty also includes highly credentialed instructors in musical studies, liberal arts, and career studies.

Curtis frequently hosts world-renowned artists to work with its students in:

  • master classes, coachings, and residencies
  • orchestra rehearsals
  • classroom lectures
  • public performances with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra and Curtis Opera Theatre


Students may pursue a Diploma or a Bachelor of Music degree. Vocal students may also pursue a Master of Music degree or a Professional Studies Certificate. Curtis provides complete and diversified musical training, including musical studies, career studies, and liberal arts courses.


Curtis alumni are luminaries in music, making history as soloists, composers, conductors, and chamber musicians. Curtis graduates have received Pulitzer Prizes, Guggenheim Fellowships, and Avery Fisher Awards. They are in the front rank of soloists and conductors. They are members of the world’s leading orchestras, including principals in every major American orchestra. They have sung with La Scala, Covent Garden, the Vienna Staatsoper, and the San Francisco Opera, among others. More than sixty have sung at the Metropolitan Opera.


Performances at Curtis grow from the school's "learn by doing" philosophy. Students enjoy constant opportunities to perform on the Student Recital Series, as members of the Curtis Symphony Orchestra and the Curtis Opera Theatre, and with distinguished faculty and alumni--in all, more than 200 public performances each season. Most are free, and prices for the rest are extremely affordable. At a typical Curtis concert, the students' artistry and youthful exuberance converge with a rare level of audience involvement, to exhilarating effect.


The Curtis Institute of Music on Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square occupies several stately mansions that pair 19th-century charm with 21st-century amenities. Student recitals take place several evenings each week throughout the school year in Field Concert Hall, a 240-seat auditorium in the school’s main building at 1726 Locust Street. At the same address, the black-box Curtis Opera Studio, seating approximately 125, is used for Curtis Opera Theatre productions.

To maintain its priceless musical traditions in the modern environment, Curtis has created a dynamic new space for learning and living. Lenfest Hall, located at 1616 Locust Street, is the first major expansion of the campus in more than 20 years. Designed by renowned Philadelphia architects Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, Lenfest Hall augments Curtis’s historic campus with safe and affordable housing; convenient dining facilities; inviting community spaces; and significantly expanded space for lessons, individual practice, and rehearsals.

Budget and Fund-Raising

Its unique full-tuition scholarship policy keeps Curtis at the forefront of the world's conservatories by ensuring that admissions are based on artistic promise alone. Mary Louise Curtis Bok, founder of the Curtis Institute of Music, gave the school a $12 million gift in 1927. The gift, at the time a huge sum, provided financial support for much of the school’s history. In the 1980s, Curtis began annual fund-raising to help pay a portion of annual operating expenses. Curtis has successfully completed several endowment campaigns in subsequent years.

Curtis receives annual operating support from the Mary Louise Curtis Bok Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation founded by the Curtis board in 1932 to administer Mrs. Bok’s endowment. A joint committee oversees the investments of the Bok Foundation and Curtis endowments.

Press Contacts

Jennifer Kallend
Senior Director of Public Relations and Patron Engagement
(215) 717-3190

Kathryn Bezella
Vice President of External Affairs and Patron Engagement
(215) 717-3187

Nikki Scandalios
(704) 340-4094

About Curtis

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