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As we ring in 2019, here is a look back at what was happening at Curtis, and in the world, 90 years ago ...

Happy New Year... 1929!?

At Curtis…

  • The mission was: “to hand down through contemporary masters the great traditions of the past; to teach to build on this heritage for the future.”
  • Curtis established a new affiliation with the Philadelphia Grand Opera Company.
  • Students could participate in radio concerts broadcast nationally by the Columbia Broadcast System (now known as CBS).
    Marcel Tabuteau presides over a broadcast session with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra

  • The library consisted of 10,000 items, including books, music, and scores (today it holds over 100,000).
    Etching of Knapp Hall, today known as the Rock Resource Center

  • Campanology was offered as a course of study.
    Bok Tower in Florida served as home for Curtis's campanology students - campanology refers to study of the carillon, an instrument that is loosely similar to a set of tuned church bells

  • Student Samuel Barber won the Joseph H. Bearnes Prize for Musical Composition.
  • The Opera Department performed Tiefland by Eugen d'Albert.
    Curtis performs Tiefland at the Academy of Music
  • Students came to Curtis from such countries as Belgium, Hungary, Palestine, Latvia, Cuba, and Colombia, as well as from 43 states.
    Student records indicating home country and state, 1929

In the larger world…

  • Mickey Mouse became the first talking cartoon character.
  • The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York opened.
    Museum of Modern Art

  • Both All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque and A Farewell to Arms by Earnest Hemingway were published.
  • Vatican City was founded.
  • The word "zombie" was introduced into the Western vocabulary.
  • The first demonstration of a color TV was held at Bell Telephone Laboratories in New York City; the images were a bunch of roses and the American flag.
    First color television demonstrated at Bell Laboratories
  • The Philadelphia Athletics won the World Series.
    Philadelphia Athletics
  • The biggest artists in popular music were Eddie Cantor, Ruth Etting, Ethel Waters, and Cliff Edwards.


Kristina Wilson

Archivist / Curtis Archives
For more information on Curtis history, visit the Curtis Archives.