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Learning Opportunities Through Curtis

With opportunities year-round on the Philadelphia campus and online, musicians and music lovers of all ages can enjoy an exceptional education from Curtis. Explore our offerings below, including the conservatoryevening seminars, free online courses, and Curtis content on YouTube.



With a small student body of about 175, Curtis ensures that each young musician receives an education of unparalleled quality, distinguished by a “learn by doing” philosophy and personalized attention from a faculty that includes a high proportion of actively performing musicians.

To ensure that admissions are based solely on artistic promise, Curtis makes an investment in each admitted student so that no tuition is charged for their studies. Curtis students hone their craft through more than 200 orchestra, opera, and solo and chamber music offerings each year in Philadelphia and around the world. There is no age limit to attend the conservatory.

Violin student Emily Shehi, from Olathe, Kans., entered Curtis in 2016. Emily has served as co-concertmaster of the Curtis Symphony Orchestra; performed in venues from Curtis’s own Field Concert Hall to homeless shelters around Philadelphia to the world-famous Carnegie Hall; participated in numerous international string competitions, including the Menuhin Competition; taught chamber music to adult participants at Curtis Summerfest; and even helped to create a viral video with her friends!

Emily’s story exemplifies the numerous opportunities available. Learn more about conservatory learning at the Curtis Institute of Music.





Evening Seminars

Access the academic expertise of Curtis Institute of Music faculty in a flexible, in-person class that is open to learners of all ages. Evening Seminars deepen attendees’ experience of concert-going through an in-depth exploration of the repertoire presented in a major Curtis performance. 

Esteemed Curtis faculty, including Chair of Musical Studies Jonathan Coopersmith, and special guests, such as conductor Osmo Vänskä, lead an expert dive into specially chosen repertoire, with information on its composers and historical context. After attending, participants will hear the works in a live Curtis performance, armed with an intimate knowledge of the repertoire and performers that will transform their listening experience.

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In a January 2020 seminar, participants learned about Sibelius’s Symphony No. 2 from special guest Osmo Vänskä, who would later lead the piece in performance with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Vänskä answered participant questions and discussed his personal interpretations of the work as well as the composer’s stature in their common homeland, Finland. “Music doesn’t give emotion to a nation, but to the people of that nation. It’s about some hope and something that may block that hope. And that’s why this piece is for everyone.

Mr. Vänskä’s insight’s are among many of those shared by performers and composers during Evening Seminars. Learn more about multiple topics and dates offered.




Free Online Courses

Delve into Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas or learn about the World of the String Quartet in free, on-demand online courses taught by Curtis faculty and alumni on Coursera.

Curtis was the first classical music conservatory to partner with Coursera to create and distribute a massive open online course (MOOC). Since launching its first class in 2013, Curtis has reached over 150,000 students on Coursera, from teens to lifelong learners, in 185 countries.

The online course Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas began as a broad overview of all the sonatas and their place in musical history. As piano alumnus Jonathan Biss shared his expertise, the course soon evolved into a closer look at individual sonatas. “Preparing and delivering these lectures over the past seven years has been a life-changing experience,” he says of his own participation. “The greatest discovery: that after all these years and all this study, these sonatas are more wondrous and more mysterious to me than ever.”

Discover thoughtful and insightful online on-demand seminars from Jonathan and others through Coursera.




Curtis on YouTube

Find high-quality audio and video recordings from Curtis performers, informative lectures, and conversations with some of today’s top musicians on Curtis’s YouTube channel. 

With a broad catalog of performances and curated playlists, weekly live streams every Friday at 8 p.m. from the Field Concert Hall stage, and more, Curtis.edu/YouTube is an ever-growing resource for those who wish to explore the many facets of classical music.

Renowned composer Augusta Read Thomas worked closely with Curtis instrumentalists, singers, and composers during her residency in the 2018–19 school year. Her conversation with David Serkin Ludwig, chair of composition studies and artistic director of the Curtis 20/21 Ensemble, reveals added insights into her music and compositional process.

Dr. Thomas’s interview is one of hundreds of free videos available from Curtis on YouTube.