3. Manhattan School of Music – New York, NY
Notable Faculty: Lawrence Dutton
The prominent violist Lawrence Dutton, a member of the very notable chamber ensemble The Emerson String Quartet, is also one of the world’s most renowned violists, having performed alongside the likes of Leon Fleisher, Mstislav Rostropovich, Lynn Harrell, and Isaac Stern. He has won an astounding nine Grammy awards and has soloed with dozens of prominent orchestras. His past students are among the most accomplished today, securing major positions in teaching posts and in chamber ensembles internationally. Dutton is an active pedagogue and also teaches at SUNY Stony Brook, New York University’s Steinhardt School, and Mercer University, so if you have your heart set on studying with one of the finest solo and chamber violists of our time, apply to all four of his studios.
Listen to the Faculty: Check out Lawrence Dutton with his world-renowned Emerson String Quartet performing Dvorak Piano Quintets.
2. TIE: Curtis Institute of Music – Philadelphia, PA + Bard College-Conservatory of Music, Annandale-On-Hudson, NY
Notable Faculty (Curtis): Roberto Díaz, Joseph De Pasquale, Michael Tree, Steven Tenenbom
Notable Faculty (Bard): Michael Tree, Steven Tenenbom, Ira Weller
Along with Kim Kashkashian of the New England Conservatory, Curtis Institute teacher and violist Roberto Díaz is among the most esteemed viola teachers and performers, having commissioned and performed music by the most important 21st century composers in several of the world’s leading concert halls. Diaz’s track record as a teacher is undeniably excellent, as his students are regularly admitted and invited to perform in the very finest symphonies throughout the world. Diaz is currently the president of the entire Curtis Institute of Music. Other Curtis viola faculty members include Joseph De Pasquale, longtime principal of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Michael Tree, founding violist of one of the most important classical string quartets of all time, the Guarneri Quartet.
I have specifically placed Bard together with Curtis here not only because of the excellent level of student ability that Bard string players have demonstrated in the last ten years, and not only because Bard is one of the top scholarship-granting conservatories in the country, but also because the two colleges share many of the same faculty. Steven Tenenbom is the violist of the Orion String Quartet, and is widely considered one of the top teachers in the country for viola study. Ira Weller, a member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra who also teaches at Mannes, regularly graduates students who are active New York City freelancers and prominent chamber musicians.
Listen to the Faculty: Check out Michael Tree’s Guarneri Quartet performing Schubert’s 13th and 14th String Quartets
1. New England Conservatory – Boston, MA
Notable Faculty: Kim Kashkashian, Martha Katz
Perhaps the most eminent violist of her generation, Grammy-award winning violist Kim Kashkashian has continually been cited as among the most significant viola teachers working in conservatories today, having prepared students for prizes in top chamber music competitions as well as for positions in top orchestras. Unique in her commitment to broadening the technique for viola, she is a top target for students who wish to pursue not only conventional viola repertoire, but also the exciting, vast, and less-performed repertoire of modern masters. Some of her notable students include Julia Rebekkah Adler, who was named in 2004 as the best German violist in the ARD International Music Competition, and Diemut Poppen, an active violist who has recorded extensively for Deutsche Grammophon.
Rounding out the faculty is a number of other very strong violists, including Martha Katz, a founding member of the legendary Cleveland Quartet.
Listen to the Faculty: Check out Kim Kashkashian’s Grammy-winning CD of viola music
Other Top Schools:
- Suny Stony Brook
Notable Faculty: Lawrence Dutton and the entire Emerson String Quartet (Only Graduate Students Have Access to Studying With Dutton).