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From an Ancient Alum to the Future Alums

Bobbi Moskow (Voice ’50) penned this note of congratulations to the newest class of Curtis alumni. Join Bobbi in welcoming the class of 2018.

Bobbi MoskowAs we approach the graduation of 2018, I cannot help but think back to the graduation of 1950 (mine) and reminisce about the “good old days.” (Reminiscing, at 90, is about the only thing I excel at). The “good old days” took place before the advent of torn jeans, Instagram, robots, iPads, smartphones, drones, Facebook, Starbucks, A.I., etc., etc., etc.

We were musically influenced by Tabuteau, Piatigorsky, Kincaid, Salzedo, Menotti, McCurdy, Hilsburg, and of course Uncle Billy Sokoloff, who played for everybody everywhere (including your lessons)—in any key. Joey Silverstein and Seymor Lipkin were part of my student mix.

Mr. and Mrs. Zimbalist sat in the left balcony at every concert. I feel certain I was not the only student who was a nervous wreck as we bowed to the box before our concerts.

Lenfest Hall was not even a dream; at that time many students lived in rooms or small apartments in Rittenhouse Square (before it became “Rittenhouse Square”).

Reel-to-reel tape was au courant. There was no technology department, no development department. Technology existed only in the comics (Dick Tracy’s watch).

The outside world was far away. Time moved slowly. In retrospect life was simpler. Full of youthful enthusiasm, it did not seem that way at the time.

Standards at Curtis [were] always high, but we remained totally insulated from the world around us.

Technology has brought the biggest change in all areas of life, and music is no exception.

Very little concerned us between music and the outside world. Helen Traubel, Wagnerian soprano at the Met, was demonized for appearing on Jimmy Durante’s TV show. Koussevitzky chastised Lenny Bernstein for writing anything but classical “serious” music.

Mrs. Zimbalist paid the bills. There were very few competitive music schools. We did not “learn by doing.” We were there to learn, period.

We also did not enter Curtis with the level of sophistication, awareness, and musical competence of today’s young musicians.

In retrospect it was not the age of anxiety or quick fixes or breaking news flashes.

But the one thing that has remained constant is the music.

It was beautiful. It is beautiful. It will always be beautiful. In your capable hands, of that we have no doubt.

In the midst of chaos your music-making gives us hope for a better world.

Congratulations – good luck!


Bobbi Moskow