Philly’s Curtis Institute is overwhelmed by ‘transformational’ gift

Philly’s Curtis Institute is overwhelmed by ‘transformational’ gift


norman lebrecht

October 08, 2021

The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia has woken up to ‘an extraordinary gift’ of $20 million from an anonymous donor family.

Out of the blue, judging by the stunned response. ‘This incredibly generous gift marks a truly transformational moment for Curtis, and will have an immediate, significant impact on our school and students for decades to come,’ says Curtis Prez Roberto Diaz.

Tuition at Curtis is free, but the new money will pay for eliminating student debt over living expenses.

Another aim is to buy a new organ and train more organists.

As a result of this gift, Curtis’s organ department will reach new heights through the addition of new instruments and a number of new and expanded initiatives, while also strengthening Curtis’s relationships with institutions around the city and across the globe. Curtis will commission a new organ for the school, ensuring that students have a world-class instrument always at their fingertips.


  • anon says:

    Culture is the soul of a people, music the body of a nation, a new organ the heart of a city that will pump the veins and arteries of neighborhoods, to bring blood to other vital organs, the mind, the reproductive system, to bring to fruition love and brotherhood of all Philadelphians, and all Americans, and by extension, the world, the cosmos, for all eternity; let the heavens resound with glorious sound of the organ, the angels sing, and God weep softly on his throne.

  • Gerry Feinsteen says:

    An institution that reaps the rewards from all the teachers and institutions before it that prepared students before arrival.

  • DG says:

    Refreshing to see a gift of this size come out of nowhere and be anonymous. The donor isn’t making it about themselves, but about the institution and its students. Bravo!

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    I certainly hope this gift wasn’t the ill-gotten gains of anybody who enjoyed ‘white privilege’ or who was a ‘toxic’ male.

  • drummerman says:

    “Train more organists.” Just what the world needs. I hope there are a lot of skating rinks with job openings.

    (Only kidding.)

    Congratulations to Curtis.

    • Violinophile says:

      A friend of mine makes a living as church organist. It takes up about 7 hours a week. But he makes it up with his 12 piano students!

    • Esther says:

      Organ is under appreciated, for sure, but when you attend a church service and sing a majestic hymn, no other instrument will be able to convey it the same way. When all unite and sing praises to a higher being together, it is a wonderful, holy, deeply satisfying experience- and we need more of that now…

  • Anon! A Moose! says:

    Every time I see one of these enormous gifts go to a university/conservatory level institution I cry a little, because it’s so misplaced. Our biz needs more funding for k-12 music education and more funding for orchestras that provide employment for the grads. Curtis, as opposed to virtually every other classical org in the US, needs this about as much as it needs a hole in the head. Reminds me of how the most talented kids, the ones *most* likely to get a good job and therefore least likely to actually *need* assistance, are the ones who get full scholarships while the less talented who will struggle with employment are the ones saddled with debt.

    We need donors with the interests of the art form at heart, not donors who are mainly attached to their alma mater or local institutions or artists. I’d like to see someone elsewhere in the country make a gift like this to the San Antonio Symphony. THAT would earn my respect.

  • Anon says:

    Extremely wealthy school gets even wealthier. Curtis is a sinking ship due to the misguided leadership they currently have. There are far more worthy schools and cultural organizations that could benefit from funding like that. Curtis certainly doesn’t need it.