Why Curtis?

The Curtis Institute of Music educates and trains exceptionally gifted young musicians to engage a local and global community through the highest level of artistry.

For nearly a century Curtis has provided each member of its small student body with an unparalleled education alongside musical peers, distinguished by a “learn by doing” philosophy and personalized attention from a faculty that includes a high proportion of actively performing musicians. With admissions based solely on artistic promise, no student is turned away due to financial need. Curtis invests in each admitted student, ensuring no tuition is charged for their studies and they enter the profession free from educational debt.

Curtis students hone their craft through more than 200 orchestra, opera, and solo and chamber music offerings and programs that bring arts access and education to the community. This real-world training allows these extraordinary young musicians to join the front rank of performers, composers, conductors, and musical leaders, making a profound impact on music onstage and in their communities.


Applications for entrance in fall 2024 are now closed.

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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.

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.

Individualized Mentorship

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.

The music I’ve heard and the people I’ve met at Curtis have changed me. Everyone here loves music so deeply that it changes them as people. I go to school with artists—people who love what they do and who are so good at it—and I’m impressed every day by the level of music-making here, both by students and faculty. They all have motivated me and inspired me on such a high level.

Steven Franklin (Trumpet '18)

Principal Trumpet, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

Learn By Doing

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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.

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.

International Reach

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.

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.