RRC Blog

Conducting at Curtis

Posted by Kristina Wilson on 12/3/20 9:00 AM

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.

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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."

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Topics: History

Legacy of "The Hall"

Posted by Kristina Wilson on 10/29/20 9:00 AM

From greenhouse to world-class concert venue, “The Hall” has hosted countless students, Curtis faculty members, guest artists, and their audiences.

For over 40 years the Hall was open only to Curtis students and faculty. Audiences were first invited to attend recitals under the directorship of Rudolf Serkin (1968–1976).

Today Field Concert Hall remains an inspiration, both for the artists who make music on its stage and for the more than 20,000 people who annually attend performances. Read on to learn more about the evolution of this remarkable performance space.

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Topics: History

A Philanthropist with a Passion

Posted by Kristina Wilson on 10/15/20 9:00 AM

An avid patron of the arts, Mary Louise Curtis Bok’s most enduring contribution was the establishment of the Curtis Institute of Music

Mary Louise Curtis Bok (1876–1970) was the only child of Cyrus H.K. Curtis (1850–1933), founder of the Curtis Publishing Company, and Louisa Knapp Curtis (1852–1910), editor of the Ladies Home Journal (published by the Curtis Publishing Company).

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Topics: History

The First Years at Curtis

Posted by Kristina Wilson on 9/10/20 12:27 PM

When the Curtis Institute opened its doors on Monday, October 13, 1924, its original buildings looked very much as they do now.

Yet they were also very different. Orchestra rehearsals were held in the Common Room, and recitals took place in an “Assembly Room” for lack of a proper concert hall. The school did not yet have a library, and there was a preparatory department in the building at 1720 Locust Street, where the present library is housed. During its early years in the 1920s, the school remodeled its buildings, developed its program, and established its legacy.

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Topics: Curtis Archives and Library, History

Student life in the 1920s: Letters from Ella Geer (Violin '27)

Posted by Kristina Wilson on 8/24/20 11:09 AM

ph2_geer.ellaThe subject of student life is rarely well documented in archival collections. To find out how students experienced life outside their lessons and practice time, we depend on the personal memorabilia and recollections of alumni. Such contributions are the basis of Curtis’s recent exhibit on student life. Thanks to our most senior alumni and faculty, life at Curtis in the 1940s is well documented, while the late Eleanor Sokoloff (Piano ’38) kindly allowed us to record her personal recollections of student life in the 1930s.

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Topics: Curtis Archives and Library, History, Alumni