Book Club: How Curtis became a musical powerhouse

Book Club: How Curtis became a musical powerhouse


norman lebrecht

August 12, 2018

From our moderator, Anthea Kreston:
Welcome to our Fortnightly Music Book Club. Themain book is Powerhouse by Brian MacNeice and James Bowen, and our guest host is Roberto Díaz, President and CEO of the Curtis Institute.

What makes Curtis so successful? We are reading from Powerhouse (MacNeice/Bowen) to learn about the institute’s unique business structure. If that sounds too forbidding (it isn’t) read the memoirs of Gary Graffman – I Really Should be Practing – and Rudolph Serkin – A Life, both former Presidents of CurtisReaders can choose which book/s interest them, and submit questions accordingly.

Here’s Roberto:

In addition, a very entertaining video of Eleanor Sokoloff at age 100, who is still (at age 104) teaching at Curtis and hosting the weekly student/faculty Wednesday tea.

A word from the author of Powerhouse:

We will see each other again in a Fortnight. In the next episodes, we will have a personal tour of the Curtis Mansion, a look into the archives, more video from Mr. Dìaz, and a look into the Serkin family by David Ludwig, composer, faculty at Curtis, and grandson of Rudi Serkin.


  • luigi nonono says:

    What MADE Curtis so successful was an all-scholarship policy including living expenses, a stellar faculty of PEDAGOGUES, not “star” performers, and the dedication to music as an art, not a career. Allowing students time to build their careers before leaving, supporting their entering competitions and taking audtions. NOT behaving like a corporation.

    • Anthea kreston says:

      Absolutely spot-on. That is exactly what Mr. Dìaz is talking about. I love the ideas of „Learn by Doing“ and „Interesting people make interesting musicians“. Thanks for your thoughtful comments!

  • don vroon says:

    Why does everyone misspell Rudolf?

    • Bill says:

      Rudi was his nickname.

      • Bill says:

        Ah, maybe you are referring to Rudolph above, my bad. I don’t see that very often.

        • Bill says:

          But maybe Anthea is an equal opportunity misspeller – in the recent Piatigorsky thread it was as often Grischa (wrong) as Grisha (right) and it was printed on the cover of the (pictured) book under discussion…

          • Anthea Kreston says:

            I can’t really spell anything, actually. My apostrophes are atrocious. And I don’t have anyone edit or check – just not enough time. I am more of an idea person than a crossing my t‘s and dotting my i‘s……I am not a trained writer, just a curious musician!