Audition

Audition dates, repertoire, and prescreening requirements vary by department. Curtis will hold virtual auditions during February and March for entry in the 2021–22 academic year. Dates are scheduled based on the faculty’s availability. Curtis is unable to honor requests for changes in the scheduled audition dates. Applicants who wish to double-major must audition and gain admission to each department separately.

Audition Calendar 

Cello TBD
Composition TBD
Guitar TBD
Horn TBD
Opera (Graduate) TBD
Timpani and Percussion
TBD
Viola TBD
Violin TBD
Voice (Undergraduate) TBD
   


Instrument departments that are not listed above will not hold auditions this year. We know that this decision is disappointing for prospective applicants to these departments, but we hope this information will help provide context for this news.

Repertoire

Composition applicants will submit no more than three original scores (and an additional $100 screening fee) with their applications. Submission of accompanying recordings is strongly recommended. Applicants to the composition department have original compositions examined by that department. 

A personal interview in Philadelphia will be required for candidates considered as finalists. 

(If interviewing in Philadelphia is not safe or accessible, interviews in a virtual environment will be considered and scheduled as necessary)

Conducting applications are accepted for the post-baccalaureate diploma program only. Applicants must submit a screening video with the application to be considered for the live auditions. Applicants will be notified in January of their live audition status.

Screening Recording
Applicants must submit a high-quality audio-visual recording. Please see the Curtis website for all relevant deadlines. 

  • Include three to four excerpts showing various musical styles from standard orchestral, operatic, and contemporary works. The excerpts can be derived from performances or rehearsals, and the entire recording should not exceed 20 minutes in length.
  • The recording must be representative of the applicant’s current work.
  • The applicant must be clearly visible.

Live Audition
All Conducting Fellow applicants selected for a live audition must demonstrate their knowledge of score analysis, harmony, counterpoint, score reading, and aural maturity in a 45-minute private session with members of the Curtis Musical Studies faculty as well as a 30-minute group session consisting of a series of dictations.

Applicants selected as finalists will move on to the conducting round of the audition.

Live Audition (if advanced)

Applicants will play works selected from categories A through E. Everything except the chamber piece is to be played from memory.

A. Two of the following études by different composers:

  • Regondi, Étude No. 2
  • Regondi, Étude No. 5
  • Regondi, Étude No. 8
  • Regondi, Étude No. 10
  • Sor, Studio in G Major, Op. 29, No. 3
  • Sor, Studio in A Major, Op. 6, No. 6
  • Sor, Studio in C Major, Op. 29, No. 17
  • Villa-Lobos, Étude No. 3
  • Villa-Lobos, Étude No. 7
  • Villa-Lobos, Étude No. 10

B. One of the following complete pieces:

  • J. S. Bach, Chaconne from Partita in D minor, BWV 1004
  • J. S. Bach, Lute Suite No. 2, BWV 997
  • J. S. Bach, Lute Suite No. 3, BWV 995
  • J. S. Bach, Prelude, Fugue and Allegro, BWV 998
  • Giuliani, Variations on a March by Cherubini, Op. 110
  • Matiegka, Sonata in B minor, Op. 31, no. 6
  • Regondi, Introduction and Caprice, Op. 23
  • Regondi, Reverie-Nocturne, Op. 19
  • Sor, Fantaisie, Op. 7
  • Sor, Fantaisie No. 7, Op. 30
  • Sor, Souvenirs d'une Soiree a Berlin, Op. 56
  • Sor, Fantaisie Elegiaque, Op. 59

C. One of the following complete pieces:

  • Ponce, Thème varié et finale
  • Ponce, Sonata No. 3
  • Ponce, Variations and Fugue on "La Folia"
  • José, Sonata
  • Britten, Nocturnal after John Dowland
  • Walton, Bagatelles
  • Ginastera, Sonata, Op. 47
  • Carter, Changes
  • Berio, Sequenza XI
  • Brouwer, Sonata

D. One of the following concertos (first movement only; accompanist provided):

  • Giuliani, Concerto in A major, Op. 30
  • Ponce, Concierto del Sur
  • Rodrigo, Concierto de Aranjuez

E. One of the following chamber pieces (chamber partner provided):

  • Crumb, Mundus Canis: movements 2 and 4
  • Giuliani, Rondo, Op. 68, No. 2 in B minor (for guitar and piano)
  • Takemitsu, Toward the Sea (for alto flute and guitar), movement 3

Piano

Live Audition (if advanced)

Applicants will play from memory:

  • A complete work of J. S. Bach
  • One of the sonatas listed below (complete and by memory):
    • Any Mozart sonata (except K. 545)
    • Any Beethoven sonata (except Op. 49)
    • Any of these five Haydn sonatas:
      1. A-flat major, Hob. XVI:46, L. 31
      2. C minor, Hob. XVI:20, L. 33
      3. E-flat major, Hob. XVI:49, L. 59
      4. C-major, Hob. XVI:50, L. 60
      5. E-flat major, Hob. XVI:52, L. 62
  • One slow and one fast selection from the works of Chopin for solo piano (no works of Chopin for piano and orchestra will be acceptable)
  • A complete major work (minimum 10-12 minutes in length) of the applicant's choice

No substitutions for the above repertoire will be allowed.

Organ

Applicants will play from memory:

  • A prelude and fugue by J. S. Bach
  • An allegro movement from a Bach trio sonata or comparable chorale-prelude
  • Two movements from the romantic or contemporary literature, one of which should be a slow movement

Organ applicants will also be asked to sight-read. A modern composition will be sent to each auditionee one month prior to auditions and will be performed (optional: from memory) at the audition.

The organ in Field Concert Hall is an Aeolian-Skinner, 5 manuals, 116 ranks. See detailed specification .

All string applicants must be prepared to play all major and minor scales and arpeggios in fluent tempo.

 

Violin

Applicants must submit a screening video with the application to be considered for the live auditions. Applicants will be notified in January of their live audition status.

Prescreening

Applicants should submit a video (recently recorded) of the following. Movements may be individual recordings, but each movement should be one uninterrupted recording; please include at least one slow tempo movement:

  1. One movement from a Mozart concerto.
  2. One movement from another standard repertoire concerto.
  3. Two movements from a Bach solo sonata or partita.
  4. A Paganini caprice.

Live Audition (if advanced)

All string applicants must be prepared to play all major and minor scales and arpeggios in fluent tempo.

Applicants will play from memory:

  1. a complete concerto by Mozart
  2. a complete sonata or partita for violin alone by J. S. Bach
  3. a caprice by Paganini
  4. another complete standard concerto for violin

Viola

Live Audition (if advanced)

All string applicants must be prepared to play all major and minor scales and arpeggios in fluent tempo. Applicants will play:

  1. A complete suite for cello, or a complete sonata or partita for violin alone by J. S. Bach
  2. One of the following concertos, complete:
    • Bartók
    • Hindemith, Der Schwanendreher
    • Penderecki
    • Piston
    • Rózsa
    • Walton
  3. One movement of an unaccompanied work by Hindemith or Reger
  4. One of the following works, complete:
    • Bax, Sonata
    • Bloch, Suite (1919)
    • Brahms, Sonatas, Op. 120, No. 1 or No. 2
    • Clarke, Sonata
    • Franck, Sonata
    • Hindemith, Sonata, Op. 11, No. 4
    • Rochberg, Sonata
    • Schubert, "Arpeggione" Sonata
    • Schumann, Märchenbilder
    • Shostakovich, Sonata
    • Shulman, Theme and Variations
    • Vieuxtemps, Sonata, Op. 36

Everything except selection #4 is to be played from memory.

 

Cello

Live Audition (if advanced)

All string applicants must be prepared to play all major and minor scales and arpeggios in fluent tempo.

Applicants will play:

  1. a complete J. S. Bach suite
  2. one of the following concertos, complete:
    • Barber
    • Dvorak
    • Elgar
    • Haydn in C or D
    • Lalo
    • Prokofiev, Sinfonia Concertante
    • Saint-Saëns No. 1
    • Schumann
    • Shostakovich No. 1
    • Tchaikovsky, Rococo Variations
    • Walton
  3. an étude from Popper, Op. 73, or an étude by Piatti
  4. one of the sonatas by Beethoven or Brahms, complete.

Everything except the Beethoven or Brahms is to be played from memory.

Double Bass

Applicants must submit a screening video with the application to be considered for the live auditions. Applicants will be notified in January of their live audition status.

Prescreening

Applicants should prepare a five to ten minute video recording of a work or works that best exhibits their skills.The choice should be similar to, but not limited to the Double Bass live audition repertoire.

Live Audition (if advanced)

Applicants will play from memory:

  1. A movement written before 1830, preferably from a solo work by Bach.
  2. A movement written after 1830.
  3. One other work from any period, which could be another movement from the required works above.The pieces may be originally written for Double bass or transcribed from another instrument. The three choices should show the strengths of the applicant as completely as possible.
  4. In addition, two prepared excerpts from the standard orchestral literature will be required (music may be used for this portion only).

 

Harp

Live Audition (if advanced)

Before applying, all applicants should submit their proposed audition repertoire to the admissions office (admissions@curtis.edu) for faculty approval.

Applicants will play from memory:

  • One solo work from the Baroque OR Classical period.
  • One solo work from the 20th century.
  • One free-choice solo work of any period.
  • Two prepared excerpts from the standard orchestral literature (music may be used for this portion).

All works should be performed from memory with the exception of the orchestra excerpts or special approval. All works should be prepared in their entirety; no single movements. Applicants will be accepted for audition depending on the level of their audition program.

All auditioning harpists may use Curtis harps to practice (48 hours prior to the audition only) and audition. Available harps:

  • Lyon & Healy 2 Style 30's
  • Lyon & Healy Salzedo (audition harp only)

Applicants will demonstrate familiarity with all major and minor scales and arpeggios, and will be expected to demonstrate sight-reading ability with material chosen by the instructor.

 

Flute

Applicants must submit a screening video with the application to be considered for the live auditions. Applicants will be notified in January of their live audition status. 
*Curtis no longer accepts flute applicants for the Post Baccalaureate program. 

Screening Repertoire
Applicants should prepare a video recording of (at least) one movement from each of three contrasting pieces. Works with piano (or other instrumental) accompaniment should be performed with piano accompaniment.

Live Audition Repertoire
All applicants should possess a good ear and a sense of rhythm and tone. They will demonstrate familiarity with all major and minor scales and arpeggios. Applicants will also be expected to demonstrate sight-reading ability with material chosen by the instructor. Applicants will play:

  • Three complete prepared pieces (all movements) in contrasting tempo and style
  • Two orchestral excerpts
  • Applicants should perform from memory if possible

Oboe

All applicants should possess a good ear and a sense of rhythm and tone. They will demonstrate familiarity with all major and minor scales and arpeggios. Applicants will also be expected to demonstrate sight-reading ability with material chosen by the instructor. Applicants will play:

  • One movement of a concerto or sonata
  • A fast étude by Ferling
  • The third movement of the Mozart oboe quartet
  • A slow aria of J. S. Bach

Applicants must also be able to read an orchestral excerpt, and they may be given a written examination concerning their general knowledge of music. In honor of the seventh director of the Curtis Institute of Music, each year one new or current oboe student will be named the John de Lancie Scholar.

 

Clarinet

Applicants must submit a screening video with the application to be considered for the live auditions. Applicants will be notified in January of their live audition status.   

All applicants should possess a good ear and a sense of rhythm and tone. They will demonstrate familiarity with all major and minor scales and arpeggios. Applicants will also be expected to demonstrate sight-reading ability with material chosen by the instructor.

Screening Repertoire

  • The exposition of the first movement of the Mozart concerto (with piano accompaniment)
  • The following orchestral excerpts:
  • Mendelssohn, A Midsummer Night's Dream (beginning to letter A, 6th bar of letter D to 19 bars after letter E)
  • Rimsky-Korsakov, Capriccio Espagnol, movement 1 (letter A to letter B, letter C for 21 bars)
  • Brahms, Symphony No. 3, movement 1 (bars 26-46), movement 2 (beginning for 22 bars)

Live Audition Repertoire

Applicants will play:

  • The Mozart clarinet concerto
  • Two contrasting pieces from the Rose Thirty-two Études
  • A prepared piece of the applicant’s choice
  • A 20th-century piece of the applicant's choice

Bassoon

Applicants must submit a screening video with the application to be considered for the live auditions. Applicants will be notified in January of their live audition status.

All applicants should possess a good ear and a sense of rhythm and tone. They will demonstrate familiarity with all major and minor scales and arpeggios. Applicants will also be expected to demonstrate sight-reading ability with material chosen by the instructor.

Screening Repertoire

  1. the first movement of one of the following concertos: Mozart, Weber or Hummel.
  2. one etude of the applicant's choice.
  3. one orchestral excerpt of the applicant's choice.

Live Audition Repertoire

Applicants will play from memory:

  1. the first two movements of any one of the following concertos:
    • Mozart, Concerto in B-flat major, K. 191
    • Weber, Concerto in F major, Op. 75
    • Hummel, Concerto in F major
  2. all major and minor scales and arpeggios, three octaves where possible
  3. an étude of the applicant’s choice (music may be used for this portion)
  4. at least two orchestral excerpts of contrasting style (music may be used for this portion)

In addition to fulfilling the specific requirements below, applicants should possess physical aptitude for the chosen instrument, a good ear, a sense of rhythm, and the ability to read at sight.

 

Trumpet

Applicants must submit a screening video with the application to be considered for the live auditions. Applicants will be notified in January of their live audition status.

Prescreening

Applicants should prepare a video recording between 10–15 minutes in length containing the following:

  • one solo work (not for piccolo trumpet): either a movement of a standard concerto or sonata (not to exceed 8 minutes) or a single movement solo work (not to exceed 8 minutes); longer works or individual movements recorded with cuts are acceptable.
  • three contrasting standard orchestral excerpts.

Live Audition (if advanced)

Applicants will play:

  • two contrasting études from Bousquet and Charlier or equivalent
  • Adolphus Hailstork Variations for Trumpet (measure 70 to the end)
  • one movement of a sonata or a complete single movement work from the standard repertoire
  • one complete concerto: Haydn, Hummel, Arutunian or equivalent
  • 3–5 contrasting standard orchestral excerpts

Applicants must display at least rudimentary knowledge of transposition.

 

Horn

Live Audition (if advanced)

Applicants will demonstrate familiarity with all major and minor scales and arpeggios. In addition, applicants will play:

  • One movement of a concerto or sonata
  • One étude by Kopprasch and one by Gallay
  • The following orchestral excerpts:
    • The last movement of Brahms’s Symphony No. 1
    • The second-horn part from the trio of the third movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3
    • The second movement of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5
    • R. Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegel
    • Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante defunte
    • The short call from Wagner’s Siegfrieds Rheinfahrt
    • The first movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7
    • The third movement of Brahms’s Symphony No. 3

 

Trombone

Auditions will be held for tenor trombone and/or bass trombone, depending on the opening. Applicants must submit a screening video with the application to be considered for the live auditions. Applicants will be notified in January of their live audition status.

Tenor Trombone Prescreening

Applicants should prepare video recordings (unaccompanied) of the following. Each work should be one uninterrupted recording.

  • One movement from a concerto, sonata, or other substantial solo work.
  • One technical étude by Kopprasch, Tyrell, or Blazhevich.
  • One lyrical étude by Bordogni, Rochut, or the equivalent.
  • At least three orchestral excerpts of contrasting style.

Live Audition (if advanced Bass and Tenor Trombone)

Applicants will play:

  • One complete concerto, sonata, or other substantial solo work.
  • One technical étude by Kopprasch, Tyrell, or Blazhevich.
  • One lyrical étude by Bordogni, Rochut, or the equivalent.
  • At least three orchestral excerpts of contrasting style.

Applicants may be asked to play all major and minor scales and to read at sight in alto, tenor, and bass clefs.

 

Tuba

Prescreening

Applicants should prepare video recordings (unaccompanied) of the following. Each work may be recorded separately.

  • An etude by Bordogni, Blazhevich, or Snedecor, performed on contrabass tuba
  • The 1st movement of the Vaughan Williams Tuba Concerto, from the beginning though the downbeat of rehearsal 3, and the cadenza to the end of the movement, recorded as one take. Any published version of the cadenza is acceptable.
  • Wagner, Die Meistersinger Overture, first 8 measures, and rehearsal J through rehearsal L
  • Wagner, Ride of the Walkure (standard B-major excerpt)

Live Audition (if advanced)

Applicants will play:

  • An etude or solo of the applicant’s choice, to be performed on contrabass tuba
  • The first and second movements of the Vaughan Williams concerto
  • At least five standard orchestral excerpts, to include:
    • Wagner's Die Meistersinger Overture, complete
    • Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries
    • Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, complete
    • The third movement of Mahler's Symphony No. 1

The applicant may be asked to play all major and minor scales and to read additional orchestral excerpts at sight. It is strongly recommended that the applicant be proficient on both contrabass and bass tuba.

Live Audition (if advanced)

Applicants should demonstrate a knowledge of the fundamental techniques of percussion and timpani. They will be examined on timpani pitch recognition and technical skills such as rolls. They should be prepared to perform:

  • One study on timpani
  • One two-mallet work on marimba or xylophone
  • One four-mallet work on marimba
  • Two studies on snare drum—classical and rudimental

Applicants will also be expected to demonstrate their ability to sight-read. Applicants must possess a good ear and be able to sing and recognize all intervals.

Voice (Bachelor of Music and Diploma Programs)

All applicants in voice are required to submit a screening recording  with application materials and a high school diploma or equivalent of the year of acceptance .

The following format types are accepted:

  • Video (.asf, .avi, .flv, .mov, .m4v, .mp4, .mpg, .mvb, .swf, .wmv)
  • Images (.bmp, .gif, .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .tiff)
  • Documents (.doc, .pdf, .xls)

Total portfolio size needs to be under 900MB, with a maximum file size of 500 MB. Please upload each piece as its own file. 

Screening Repertoire:

Three repertoire selections - one selection in English, one aria, and one selection from German Lieder, Italian, or French art songs from any period. Video recordings should include accompaniment and should show contrast in musical styles and tempos. Please make the best quality recording with the equipment available to you. Pre-recorded accompaniment is acceptable. Applicants will be notified of decisions regarding live auditions in February. 

Live Audition Repertoire:
Vocalists who audition live will be asked to perform up to four selections from memory, showing the character and quality of voice and musicianship:

  1. one selection in English (not a translation)
  2. three selections from the standard oratorio repertoire, German lieder, classic Italian songs, or French and English songs of any period
  3. an aria from an opera or oratorio

Graduate - Master in Opera and Professional Studies Certificate: Opera

All applicants in voice are required to submit screening video recordings with application materials. Please see the Curtis website for all relevant deadlines. 

The following format types are accepted:

  • Video (.asf, .avi, .flv, .mov, .m4v, .mp4, .mpg, .mvb, .swf, .wmv)
  • Images (.bmp, .gif, .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .tiff)
  • Documents (.doc, .pdf, .xls) 

Total portfolio size needs to be under 900MB, with a maximum file size of 500 MB. Please upload each piece as its own file.

Screening repertoire:

Three contrasting opera arias. Videos should include accompaniment and should show contrast in musical styles and tempos. Please make the best quality recording with the equipment available to you. Pre-recorded accompaniment is acceptable.

Applicants will be notified of decisions regarding live auditions in February.

Live Audition 

Vocalists who audition live will be asked to perform from memory:

  1. up to five contrasting arias from the standard operatic repertoire

 

 

Substitutions or exceptions to the audition repertoire are not permitted. While the choice of composition is important, audition performance carries the greater weight. Audition candidates may be asked to demonstrate their sight-reading ability. A knowledge of piano and music theory is desirable. Please reach out to a member of the admissions team at admissions@curtis.edu with any questions about specific repertoire and audition requirements. 

Procedures

Pre-recorded or live auditions in a virtual environment during February and March 2021. Details will be posted on this page.

 

Audition FAQ

Live auditions are usually held on campus at 1726 Locust Street or at Lenfest Hall at 1616 Locust Street. This year, live auditions will be held in a virtual environment. Curtis does not hold regional auditions at this time.

Auditions are organized in groups. You will be given a time to meet along with other applicants and will draw a number to make the audition order as fair as possible. Once the order is determined, you will be told a time when you should be back to wait for your warm-up room. You will have around 30 minutes of warm-up time in a designated room. Curtis student proctors will be running most of the logistics, under the supervision of the admissions team. Students are happy to answer any questions you may have about Curtis while you wait. 

It depends on the department for which you’re auditioning. On the Curtis website, the Repertoire section of theAudition page outline requirements for repertoire and memorization 

Audition repertoire varies by major department. The best way to determine the repertoire requirements is to visit the Auditionpage. 

Each applicant may warm-up for 30 minutes in an assigned practice room before the audition. The audition proctors will take you to your practice room at your designated time. Please plan to arrive at least 10 minutes before your slotted audition time.