Strings

The Curtis strings department integrates new students into the full musical life of the school from the moment they arrive.

Working with distinguished artist-faculty members, string players study solo repertoire and concertos, orchestral repertoire, and chamber music.

Curtis aims to educate and train musicians for 21st-century careers as performers on the highest professional level, through a unique “learn by doing” approach. Students can expect to perform often on the Student Recital Series and in other school-sponsored recitals from the beginning of their Curtis careers.

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Curriculum

Applicants who are admitted enter either the Bachelor of Music or Master of Music programs, or the diploma programs. Those who already hold bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees or other certificates or diplomas are welcome to apply.

Audition Requirements

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

  • (updated 10/22/21)

    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

    All applicants must play from memory.

    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 major concerto.
    2. One movement from a Mozart concerto including cadenza
    3. Two movements from a Bach solo sonata or partita
    4. A Paganini caprice

    Live Audition (if advanced)

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

    If you are applying for a Bachelor of Music or Diploma program, please prepare:

    1. A complete major concerto
    2. A complete Mozart concerto
    3. A complete Bach solo sonata or partita
    4. A Paganini caprice

    All applicants must play from memory.

    If you are applying for a Post Baccalaurate Diploma or Master of Music program, please prepare:

    1. All of the same repertoire requirements as Bachelor’s candidates above, PLUS
    2. A complete sonata from this list: Faure A Major, Schumann a minor, Brahms G Major, or Schubert A Major Duo
    3. A commission from a Curtis student composer written expressly for the audition, for solo violin and under five minutes in length. The piece will be sent to all those who pass the prescreening round, as soon they’ve been selected.

    All works should be played from memory except the sonata and the new commissioned piece.

  • (updated 9/21/21)

    Prescreening

    Each piece or movement should be submitted without edits, with a single camera angle that shows your hands and arms clearly. The entire prescreening program should be memorized.

    1. A major movement of at least 7 or 8 minutes’ length from the concerto chosen for the live round (see list below). For example, if playing Bartók in the live round, submit the 1st movement for prescreening; if playing Schnittke, submit the 2nd or 3rd movement; if playing Penderecki, submit a substantial (7–8 minute) stretch of the work; and so on. With accompaniment.
    2. Two movements from the Bach work chosen for the live round (see list below). Please omit any repeats.
    3. The short unaccompanied work or movement from the 20th or 21st century chosen for the live round (see list below).

     

    Live Audition (if advanced)

    Entire live audition program should be memorized except item 2 in the list below.

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

    1. An entire major concerto from the 20th or 21st century, such as Bartók, Walton, Hindemith Der Schwanendreher, Penderecki, Schnittke, or Higdon. The concerto does not have to be chosen from this list, but should be at a similar level of scope and difficulty.
    2. An entire sonata or sonata-like work drawn from the 19th century or later, for example a Brahms sonata, Vieuxtemps Sonata Op. 36, Schumann Märchenbilder, Bax Sonata, Hindemith Sonata (1939), or Shostakovich Sonata. The piece does not have to be chosen from this list, but should be at a similar level of scope and difficulty.
    3. An entire unaccompanied work by J.S. Bach, drawn from either the Cello Suites or Violin Sonatas and Partitas.
    4. A short, unaccompanied work or movement from the 20th or 21st century, for example a movement from a Reger suite or Hindemith solo sonata, a movement from the Ligeti Sonata, the Penderecki Cadenza, Joan Tower’s Wild Purple, or a caprice by Atar Arad. The piece does not have to be chosen from this list, but should be at a similar level of scope and difficulty.
  • (updated 9/16/21)

    Prescreening

    Applicants should submit a video (recently recorded) of the following. Movements may be individual recordings, but each movement should be one uninterrupted recording.

    1. A prelude plus another complete movement with repeats of a J.S. Bach suite
    2. First movement with cadenza of one of the following concertos:
      • 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. A complete étude from Popper, Op. 73, or an étude by Piatti
    4. First movement with accompaniment of one of the sonatas by Beethoven or Brahms

     

    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 (current for 2022 auditions)

    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).

Student Performances