Baroness gives $55 million to music school

The outgoing chair of the Curtis Institute has made a parting gift of $55 million, its largest since Mary Louise Curtis Bok founded the tuition-free, high-performance school in 1928.

It is rare for donations of this size to go to education, but Nina Baroness von Maltzahn has been closely involved with Curtis for six years, helped launch its touring programme and has given previous bequests of $11.5 million.

‘The whole set-up got very close to me,’ she tells Peter Dobrin. ‘And I did want to do something for Curtis. Curtis on Tour — I didn’t begin it, but I was there from almost the beginning, and I feel a little bit like it’s my baby. At my young age,’ — 75 — ‘I was thinking of my estate, and I had a grandmother whom I adored, and she brought me up and said, `When you can give, give with a warm hand — when you’re alive. “‘



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  • Wonderful to see this level of philanthropy going towards classical music and education. I hope it will inspire others.

  • Yeah: 1% of the 1%.

    The 99% do a very great deal more, especially considered proportionately to their incomes.

  • A friend’s young son is going on the Curtis tour this summer… sounds so exciting. Relieved to read that it is supported

    • Yes, such a generous amount would help the EUYO. The difference here is an individual with vision versus a committee without. This is not uncommon in America. There is nothing stopping wealthy Europeans from doing likewise.

      • Bernard Arnault (LVMH) please step forward. The EUYO needs your support because the EU doesn’t have its priorities in order. Baroness von Maltzahn has deep European family roots and has a residence in Berlin; perhaps she actually would help if asked.

        Her gift to Curtis is over 10 years; a payout like that is good for their endowment (well over $200M) but wouldn’t fix the EUYO problem in the short-term. I imagine that it will be $5M a year plus the annual interest (usually 5%) on the unpaid portion for a total of $55M. (Just a guess on my part).

  • I’m sure the gift is much appreciated, but this illustrates a big problem in the arts. The big money is going towards these Cadillac educational institutions, which pump out ever more highly trained musicians who won’t be able to get jobs in the arts. What’s the point of all of these fancy programs if the vast majority of graduate wind up making peanuts?

    How about helping orchestras hire and pay more? An even greater need is to provide musical education in the public schools. People keep wondering why classical music isn’t more popular while the solution is staring them in the face. Kids who learn how to play an instrument have a much better appreciation for classical music.

    • Curtis grads will be able to get jobs in the arts.

      This is coming from someone with an education from a world-class music school, an orchestra job, and who probably still isn’t good enough to meet Curtis’ pre-screening requirement.

  • Is that the Curtis where they have (or had) ONE guy screening the auditions, choosing people who are pretty much trained so Curtis can take the credit?
    Same as AVA.

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