The Curtis Symphony Orchestra serves to train a new generation of musicians. But what of the conductors who lead it?
The conductors who have led the Curtis Symphony Orchestra (CSO) - beginning with Leopold Stokowski in 1924 - have each left their unique stamp, culminating in the truly unique musical ensemble the CSO is today.
The early years (1924-1931)
The Curtis orchestra met for the first time on November 14, 1924 in the Comm
on Room. Just six years later it had performed in the Academy of Music and Carnegie Hall, broadcast concerts on radio, and played for Curtis’s first opera production, Eugene d’Albert’s Tiefland.
The school’s early success was due in large part to the close friendship between its founder, Mary Louise Curtis Bok, and Leopold Stokowski, music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Stokowski saw Curtis as the perfect springboard for musicians to enter the Philadelphia Orchestra, taking charge of the orchestra himself to fully achieve his vision. Furthermore, all instrumental faculty were members of the Philadelphia Orchestra and thus known to Stokowski. According to the Curtis Catalogue in 1926, “... the students of The Curtis Institute of Music receive the training which has made the Philadelphia Orchestra the foremost in the World."