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What Makes Curtis Unique


Small Student Body: Curtis limits enrollment to about 175 students, accepting just enough students to maintain a full symphony orchestra and an opera program, plus select programs in piano, guitar, composition, conducting, and organ, as well as community artist fellows and a string quartet in residence. By focusing its resources on this small, select group, Curtis ensures that each student receives an education of unparalleled quality.

Unmatched selectivity: With an average acceptance rate around 4 percent, Curtis is among the most selective schools in the United States. Its high standard of admissions ensures that students will rehearse and perform alongside musical peers whose talents will challenge and inspire them.

Tuition-free education: All Curtis students receive merit-based, full-tuition scholarships. As a result, talent and artistic promise are the only considerations for admission. Generous financial aid likewise ensures that no student accepted to Curtis will be unable to attend because of financial need.

Personalized attention with faculty of performer-practitioners: Curtis’s celebrated faculty includes a high proportion of actively performing musicians whose experience provides students with a direct link to life as a professional musician today. With a student body of about 175 and 113 faculty members, all students receive highly personalized attention.

Students “learn by doing”: Curtis students present more than 200 public performances each year, giving them opportunities to hone their craft and shape their artistic point-of-view on stage, in front of enthusiastic live audiences, on an almost weekly basis. These performances take place in Philadelphia and around the world through the Curtis on Tour program.

World-renowned visiting artists: Curtis’s reputation for excellence attracts an unparalleled array of visiting artists. OsmoVänskä, Michael Tilson Thomas, Vladimir Jurowski, Hilary Hahn (’99),  Richard Goode (’64), Antoine Tamestit, Gary Hoffman, Eighth Blackbird, and the JACK Quartet are just a few of the master musicians who have worked with our students recently. Frequent master classes and residencies give students in all disciplines exposure to today’s leading musical artists, some of whom also join the students on stage in concerts and recitals.

International reach: Curtis aims to inspire a global music community with a passion for making music, keen insight into its power, and enthusiasm for sharing it. Forty percent of the student body comes to Curtis from outside the United States, and 20 nations are represented by the student body in a typical year. In addition, Curtis’s global touring initiative, Curtis on Tour, has visited over 50 destinations around the world to date.

Historical significance: With esteemed graduates such as Leonard Bernstein (’41) and Samuel Barber (’34), the power of Curtis’s legacy far surpasses its size. The Curtis campus reflects the rich heritage of the institution and the many musicians who have been trained here. The historical integrity of the main building at 1726 Locust Street has been preserved, as have many original school traditions.

Meet the People Who Make Curtis Unique

Read the stories of students, faculty, and alumni and hear their music-making. Explore the online edition of Overtones, the semiannual Curtis magazine.