In today’s competitive musical world, gifted young musicians face a choice among several top-tier institutions. Talented students are often accepted to multiple conservatories or universities. Below are thoughts from our community members about what makes Curtis unique.
For many, the teacher is the first consideration in choosing a music conservatory. With a 100-member performance faculty of active performing artists, Curtis offers your best opportunity to receive personalized attention from a master—or more than one—in your discipline. Browse our unparalleled faculty roster. Their unmatched musical lineage traces its roots back to classical masters of the 19th century and beyond.
Performance is the best preparation for a life on the stage, so you will perform frequently (and if you are a composer, your works will be performed). This "learn by doing" approach prompts more than 200 student performances a year, ranging from 100 student recitals before deeply engaged audiences, to ticketed performances by the Curtis Symphony Orchestra and Curtis Opera Theatre, to touring opportunities alongside faculty and alumni with Curtis on Tour. Curtis students perform frequently at venues around Philadelphia and the surrounding area, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Barnes Foundation, and Longwood Gardens.
If you play an orchestral instrument, you will have an extraordinary experience with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, acclaimed for its “otherworldly ensemble and professional level of sophistication.” In addition to three concerts each year at Verizon Hall (where the Philadelphia Orchestra plays), you will rehearse regularly with internationally renowned conductors—Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Osmo Vänska, Simon Rattle, Robert Spano, Vladimir Jurowski, and more. This professional training has enabled Curtis alumni to assume prominent positions in leading orchestras around the world.
Are you a singer? Imagine this: All of Curtis’s 25 opera and voice students perform several roles a year in professional-quality Curtis Opera Theatre productions before large, enthusiastic audiences, receiving a rare level of stage experience. Even singers in their teens find themselves polishing roles and stretching their abilities with every rehearsal and performance. Known for its imaginative productions, bold concepts, and deeply theatrical values, the Curtis Opera Theatre is the training ground for singers who go on to perform with the world’s most prominent opera companies.
Curtis’s famed Student Recital Series forms the backbone of each season, presenting 100 free concerts of solo and chamber music each year. Instrumental and vocal musicians participate in an active chamber music environment that encourages them to collaborate and form new ensembles under the tutelage of world-class chamber musicians on the faculty. Among other special opportunities, the Curtis 20/21 Ensemble performs contemporary music, often collaborating with important composers and other major figures in new music.
All Curtis students receive full-tuition scholarships—so talent and artistic promise are the only considerations for admission. And since Curtis is generous with financial aid for living expenses, no student who is accepted will be unable to attend because of financial need.
With only 175 students, Curtis is small in size, but huge in stature. True, it’s America’s most selective conservatory—but once accepted, you will rehearse and perform alongside musical peers whose talents will challenge and inspire you. Curtis focuses its resources on a select group, so every student receives an education of the highest quality. This is the source of its elite reputation among musicians.
Curtis students, faculty, and staff form a tightknit, warm community. When you arrive, you’ll find that teachers are quick to offer personalized attention. Staff are always ready with a listening ear. And students support one another, with competition distinctly downplayed. Alumni, too, remain closely connected to the school and its students after they graduate. Read the stories of students, faculty, and alumni and hear their music-making in the online edition of Overtones, the semiannual Curtis magazine.
Curtis alumni invent careers with impact. They are in the front rank of soloists, conductors, and chamber musicians. They are members of the world’s leading orchestras, and every major American orchestra has principals who are Curtis alumni. They have sung with the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Covent Garden, the Vienna State Opera, and the San Francisco Opera, among many others. They are frequent winners of the most prestigious awards and honors in the classical music world, including Pulitzer Prizes, Guggenheim Fellowships, and Avery Fisher Awards. Just as important, they are leaders, teachers, and change agents in their communities.
Curtis is committed to creating opportunities for the most promising young musicians—all of them—and is resolved to maintain a diverse and inclusive campus environment. This commitment to diversity extends beyond our walls, too, because anyone who cares about the art of music feels a deep sense of responsibility to make it available to as many people as possible. Through their community-based collaborations, Curtis students are working to build this access every day. Everyone at Curtis believes that more people across all demographics exposed to classical music will ultimately result in increased diversity—in our audiences, among our applicants, and among the gifted artists who make fulfilling lives in music and inspire the next generation.
Curtis is perfectly positioned in the heart of one of America’s most livable cities, with a superb array of cultural attractions within an easy walk—from the world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra to lively art museums and the cutting-edge Fringe Festival. As a student, you’ll be able to explore everything Philadelphia has to offer while enjoying a comfortable home-away-from-home among Curtis’s historic and architecturally significant buildings.
Curtis’s residence hall is a welcoming space where students from around the world move effortlessly from residence suites to garden terrace, from dining hall to practice studios, from classrooms to rehearsal rooms. The warm and supportive environment fosters friendship and unexpected musical collaborations. Even those who choose to live off-campus enjoy most of these amenities, while finding accommodation in one of Philadelphia’s most pleasant neighborhoods.
Curtis students have unparalleled opportunities to tour, both nationally and internationally, performing alongside renowned faculty and alumni. In the ten years since its inception, Curtis on Tour has presented performances in 300 concerts in 90 cities, in 20 countries on 4 continents. In a recent highlight, the Curtis Symphony Orchestra toured Europe in 2017, with performances in Berlin, London, Vienna, and Salzburg, among other venues. Tours offer a valuable “learn by doing” experience, allowing students to test-drive the daily life of a traveling artist, and cementing close artistic relationships along the way.
Musical studies courses offer you a practical, working knowledge of the artistic techniques of Western music. Ample offerings in liberal arts aim to educate you broadly and deeply. Once you’ve completed Curtis’s liberal arts requirements for the Bachelor of Music degree, you can go a step further, and enroll at no cost at the University of Pennsylvania for additional courses. A compelling career studies ensures that you’ll absorb the practical skills needed to invent your musical career.
A “learn by doing” philosophy pervades everything you’ll do at Curtis. Performance is the best preparation for a life on the stage, so you will perform frequently. A compelling career studies and community engagement curriculum ensures that you’ll absorb the skills needed to invent your musical career.
The Curtis campus offers many and varied facilities, from small rooms suitable for solo practice to large studios capable of accommodating chamber rehearsals. Students may also reserve Field Concert Hall and Gould Rehearsal Hall, pending availability, for large-ensemble rehearsals or recordings.
Curtis maintains a collection of high-quality instruments that are available for student use.
While instrumentalists are encouraged to rehearse and perform with Curtis student pianists, all Curtis students have access to experienced staff pianists to prepare for private lessons with major faculty, Curtis-sponsored master classes, and performances on the Student Recital Series.
Curtis also maintains studios with cutting-edge audio-visual equipment in both main buildings. This equipment is used to record all student performances, and to produce all of Curtis’s live-streamed performances. Students may reserve time to work with audio-visual staff members to produce recordings for auditions and festival applications. In addition, classes are available for students to learn valuable skills to record themselves and produce promotional content.