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Ever since Leopold Stokowski conceived it as a training ground for budding Philadelphia Orchestra musicians, the Curtis orchestra has prepared students to graduate into the leading ensembles of the world. At first Stokowski led rehearsals in the common room. Then for decades the orchestra was shoehorned into the recital hall, placing double basses and percussionists in its balconies. The advent of Lenfest Hall in 2011 relocated rehearsals into the spacious and acoustically superb Gould Rehearsal Hall.

1925: Leopold Stokowski leads an orchestra rehearsal (assisted by Thaddeus Rich) in the common room.

PHOTO: Curtis Archives

“I have always dreamed of an ideal training method for our [Philadelphia] Orchestra—at last it is come—in the student orchestras of The Curtis Institute.
I can develop completely trained young artists fully equipped for every school of symphony playing
—an opportunity of the highest value.”
—Leopold Stokowski, quoted in Seventy-Five Years of The Curtis Institute of Music

1938: The legendary Fritz Reiner, shown rehearsing in the recital hall, led the orchestra and the conducting program for a decade, from 1931 to 1941.

PHOTO: Curtis Archives/Fritz Henle
2011: Yannick Nézet-Séguin led a reading with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra in Gould Rehearsal Hall shortly after becoming music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He has since joined the Curtis faculty as mentor to today’s conducting fellows.

PHOTO: Jessica Griffin


A history of conducting at Curtis

The orchestra’s first European tours

An orchestra reading with Simon Rattle






 “Opportunity of a Lifetime” – a Curtis conducting fellow learns from an eminent mentor. (Spring 2014)

“The Mueller Touch” – the towering influence of Otto-Werner Mueller on a generation of Curtis conductors (Fall 2012)