Curtis Institute of Music

Curtis Institute of Music
Type Private
Established 1924
Endowment $130.5 million[1]
President Roberto Díaz
Director Roberto Díaz
Students 167
Location Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Campus Urban
Website Official website

The Curtis Institute of Music is a conservatory in Philadelphia that offers courses of study leading to a performance diploma, Bachelor of Music, Master of Music in Opera, or Professional Studies Certificate in Opera. It is renowned for being among the most selective institutes of higher education in the United States, with a 4.8% admissions rate.[2]


The institute was established in 1924 by Mary Louise Curtis Bok, who named it in honor of her father, Cyrus Curtis, a notable American publisher. After consulting with musician friends including Josef Hofmann and Leopold Stokowski on how best to help musically gifted young people, Bok purchased three mansions on Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square and had them joined and renovated. She established a faculty of prominent performing artists and eventually left the institute with an endowment of US$12 million.[3]

Looking southeast from Rittenhouse Square toward the Curtis Institute's main building at the corner of Locust Street (on the left) and South 18th Street (on the right) (2006)


The institute formerly served as a training ground for orchestral musicians to fill the ranks of the Philadelphia Orchestra, although composers, organists, pianists, guitarists, and singers are offered courses of study as well.

All pupils attend on full scholarship and admission is extremely competitive. With the exception of composers, conductors, pianists, and guitarists, admission is granted only to the number of students to fill a single orchestra and opera company. Accordingly, enrollment is in the range of 150 to 170 students. According to statistics compiled by U.S. News & World Report, the institute has the lowest acceptance rate of any college or university (4.8%), making it among the most selective institutions of higher education in the United States.


Past directors

Past directors of the institute have included:

Current administration

Roberto Diaz is President and director of the Institute. Diaz is also a Curtis alumnus and faculty member. He was principal violist of the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1996 to 2006 and is a member of the Diaz Trio.[4] Paul Bryan started his tenure as interim dean in January 2013.[5]

Notable alumni

Many of its alumni have gone on to notable careers including:




  1. As of June 30, 2009. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2009 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2008 to FY 2009" (PDF). 2009 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. National Association of College and University Business Officers. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
  2. "Curtis Institute of Music". U.S. News & World Report. U.S. News & World Report LP. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  3. Stoddard, Maynard Good (2000). "A Legacy of Music". Saturday Evening Post. vLex. 272 (1). Retrieved October 30, 2013.
  4. "Roberto Díaz, President". Curtis Institute of Music. Retrieved 2013-10-30.
  5. Dobrin, Peter (January 8, 2013). "Curtis Institute dean exits". Interstate General Media, LLC. Retrieved October 30, 2013.
  6. "Council". Curtis Institute of Music. Curtis Institute of Music. 2004. Archived from the original on 2004-09-04. Retrieved October 31, 2013.
  7. "Artistic Leadership". Curtis Institute of Music. Retrieved October 31, 2013.
  8. "Noted violist Joseph de Pasquale dies at 95". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
  9. "Michael Houstoun" (PDF). Timaru District Council. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
  10. "Amanda Majeski". Oper Frankfurt Season 2013/2014. Oper Frankfurt. Retrieved October 30, 2013.
  11. Chadbourne, Eugene. Robert A. Martin at AllMusic. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  12. "Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt, Viola (Biography)". Instant Encore. Retrieved October 30, 2013.
  13. "Dover Quartet". The Dover Quartet. Retrieved October 30, 2013.
  14. "Eytan Pessen". Opera Narodowa. Retrieved October 30, 2013.
  15. Daniel J. Wakin, "A Tearful (and Lucrative) Parting of Virtuoso and Violin", The New York Times. October 21, 2009.
  16. "Peter Wiley, Faculty Bios by Name". The Curtis Institute of Music. Retrieved October 31, 2013.

Coordinates: 39°56′56″N 75°10′14″W / 39.9488°N 75.1706°W / 39.9488; -75.1706

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