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Chamber Music

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The distinguished history of chamber music at Curtis began before its founding, with a legendary ensemble that served as inspiration to the faculty: the revered Joachim Quartet. A painting of the quartet adorned the wall of the rehearsal studio in which Louis Bailly trained the students who would ultimately form the Curtis Quartet in the 1930s. Today most Curtis students play chamber music, in increasingly varied forms; and a string quartet in residence rehearses in a studio containing a portrait of the Guarneri Quartet, that fabled ensemble made up of Curtis alumni.

c. 1928: Louis Bailly with students in front of a painting of the Joachim Quartet

PHOTO: Curtis Archives
1936: When the Curtis Quartet toured Europe, its members met up with their former classmate Samuel Barber in Rome, where he was studying. The Curtis Quartet was closely identified with Barber’s Dover Beach for baritone and string quartet, as well as his String Quartet, Op. 11, with its famous Adagio.

PHOTO: Curtis Archives

“In my student days, we coached mostly with Louis Bailly ... It was always very technical ... With the coming of the Guarneri Quartet and Felix Galimir—and for many years, Jascha Brodsky and I coached chamber music here too—we endeavored to impart a love for the music itself.” —Orlando Cole, oral history, October 2001

2014: The Dover Quartet, first string quartet in residence though the string quartet program inaugurated in 2013, gathers in front of a painting of the Guarneri Quartet by Curtis alumnus Gary Logsdon.

PHOTO: Helene van Rossum


A history of string quartets at Curtis
“Everything Essential” – how Curtis became an incubator for great American quartet players (Fall 2014)