RRC Blog

The Women of the Philadelphia Piano Ensemble

Posted by Claire Thai, student archives assistant on 3/12/21 4:12 PM

The Philadelphia Piano Ensemble

Described as “brilliant” by the Philadelphia Tribune, the Philadelphia Piano Ensemble was an all-female, all-African American group of pianists known for their captivating performances and arrangements of popular classical works.i

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Topics: Curtis Archives and Library

Women's History Month at Curtis: Irra Petina (Voice '35)

Posted by Kristina Wilson on 3/2/21 12:34 PM

A truly versatile singer, Curtis alumna Irra Petina was well known for both her operatic and Broadway roles

ph2_petina.irra.01 Russian-American mezzo-soprano and actress Irra Petina (Voice ’35) was born on April 18, 1908 in St. Petersburg, Russia. The daughter of  wealthy   parents, she and her family were forced to flee to avoid persecution following the 1917 Bolshevik uprising. They made their way to  China where, for twelve years, Petina received her first formal vocal training, largely from fellow Russian emigres.  When she was 21,  Petina traveled to Philadelphia   to audition for admission to Curtis. She was accepted as a voice student of Harriet van Emden in 1930.

 

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Topics: Curtis Archives and Library, History, Alumni

A language all America should know : composer, William Frederick Cardin "Pejawah"

Posted by Claire Thai, student archives assistant on 2/16/21 9:55 AM

Fred Cardin headshot, circa 1927, Curtis ArchivesWilliam Frederick Cardin, also known as Pejawah (Big Cat), pioneered the recognition of Native American music as an integral part of mainstream American culture. His accomplishments both as a composer and violinist were second to none—but a successful career was not his only ambition; he sought to bring awareness to Native American music and art. In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer he stated: “The music of the Indian tells a story of those trees. It talks of flowers and grass and hills and valleys in a language all America should know. It is an important and valuable part of the Nation’s heritage, and it should not be allowed to die.” i

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Topics: Curtis Archives and Library

The Legacy of Ursula Guy Curd

Posted by Claire Thai, student archives assistant on 2/4/21 10:21 AM

Ursula Guy CurdUrsula Guy Curd (1890-1988) was an African American pianist admitted to the first class at the Curtis Institute of Music in 1924. Her musical ability was described as “unforgettable” with “clear tone and marvelous touch” by the 1942 Pittsburgh Courier—but to limit her memory to that of just an excellent pianist would sell her accomplishments short. She was a founding member of the Omega Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, a sorority dedicated to the advancement of education and culture of African American women. From the early 1900s to today, Alpha Kappa Alpha has been at the forefront of social action for African Americans, from creating the first congressional lobby to advocate for better working and living conditions to establishing the American Council of Human Rightsi. In addition to her performance career and her social contributions, she was a teacher in the Philadelphia Public School System, a prolific piano teacher to students in Philadelphia, wife to Dr. Kirksey Curd, and mother to Ursula A. Curd (more affectionately known as “little Ursie”).

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Topics: Curtis Archives and Library

The Curtis Radio Program Spotlights Early Talent in Curtis’s History

Posted by Pete Williams on 2/3/21 4:06 PM

Throughout its history, Curtis has had maintained relationships with local media interested in broadcasting Curtis performances. Curtis has a long and successful relationship with local radio and TV stations like WHYY and continues to broadcast its own streaming (and, these days, “socially distant”) performances on its YouTube channel.

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Topics: Curtis Archives and Library