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What Makes Curtis Unique


Small student body: With enrollment figures around 150, Curtis accepts just enough students to maintain a full symphony orchestra and an opera program, plus select programs in piano, guitar, composition, conducting, and organ; Community Artist Fellows; and a string quartet in residence. The admissions process ensures that students rehearse and perform alongside musical peers.

Personalized attention from faculty: Students receive personalized attention from an extraordinary faculty of approximately 120 top-tier musical artists and highly credentialed classroom teachers. Most students have access to multiple teachers on their major instrument. There are no teaching assistants at Curtis. Class sizes are small and curricula are tailored to the needs of individual students.

Students “learn by doing”: All students are encouraged to perform frequently. Curtis students present more than 200 public performances each year to critical acclaim and enthusiastic audiences. The Curtis Opera Theatre casts all voice and opera students repeatedly each season. The Curtis Symphony Orchestra, in which all but the very youngest students of orchestral instruments participate, gives a three-concert season in top concert venues. All instrumental students participate in chamber music, and Curtis offers more than one hundred student recitals each season.

Tuition-free education: Curtis makes an investment in each student so that no tuition is charged for their studies. As a result, artistic promise is the only consideration for admission. Generous financial and grant aid likewise ensures that no student accepted to Curtis will be unable to attend because of financial need and that each student can enter the profession without educational debt. This investment in students brings the most promising young musicians to the school—regardless of their ability to pay—and ensures that they will rehearse and perform alongside musical peers of diverse races, nationalities, and origins.

Excellence drawn from all corners of the globe: The school’s high standard for entry ensures that students rehearse and perform alongside musical peers. There is no minimum or maximum age to audition, and the student body is international and multicultural. As much as fifty 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.

World-renowned visiting artists: Frequent master classes and residencies give students in all disciplines exposure to today’s leading musical artists, some of whom participate in performances alongside students. Well-known stage and music directors work with the Curtis Opera Theatre on fully-staged productions. Recent visiting artists include composer Amy Beth Kirsten, pianist Emanuel Ax, cellist Colin Carr, conductor George Manahan. 

Historical significance: With esteemed graduates such as Samuel Barber (’34), George Walker (’45), and Anna Moffo (’54) 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 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.