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Shirley Curtiss

Shirley Curtiss

Sunday, November 12th, 1933 Saturday, October 26th, 2019

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Obituary for Shirley Curtiss

Shirley passed away Oct. 26, 2019 after a long bout with Parkinson's Disease. She was just short of her 86th birthday. Beloved music teacher and mentor. She was admired for her bassoon teaching, having helped to produce several principal bassoon players of major symphony orchestras, namely, NY Philharmonic, Washington National Symphony and Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera.
She was for many years the driving force of the woodwind chamber music program at the Settlement Music School founded by her teacher Sol Schoenbach of which he was Director following his retirement as principal bassoon of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
After completing her MBA at the University of Miami, she spent a summer at Tanglewood, where she met a group of young musicians from Philadelphia, and that determined the course of her life. She moved here to study with Shoenbach. In 1962 she married Sidney Curtiss, a viola player with the Philadelphia Orchestra. She was the Principal Bassoon for the PA Ballet for over 40 years and an occational bassoon player for the Philadelphia Orchestra. Throughout her life Shirley was a personal inspiration to generations of young musicians. A memorial will be held in the spring.
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Shelly Mohr

Shirley Curtiss... I can’t put into words how much she changed my life. Without her I wouldn’t be where or who I am today. I think the same could be said for my family as well. My uncle and I both had the pleasure of being one of Shirley’s students, and as most of us know - once a student, always a student. Her teachings, wisdom, and passion for music sticks with you far beyond the lesson or rehearsal spaces. Shirley and Sid welcomed all of their students into their home, and beautiful musical world. They both have helped me love music in more ways than I thought imaginable. Shortly after staring lessons with Shirley, my favorite place to be in this world became, and still is, sitting in the bassoon section of an orchestra. Shirley will forever hold an extremely special place in my heart. I will miss her laugh, her hard lessons, but most of all her heart. Sending love to Sid and the rest of her extended musical family.
Comment | Posted at 08:33am via Condolence

Valdora Kell

My daughter, Elizabeth, had the opportunity to be part of Shirley's woodwind quartet, years ago. She and her husband shared their beautiful home and dogs with us, the parents of the lucky students. Shirley was a tough teacher. She will be missed by all who had the pleasure to know her and Sidney, ner terrific husband. She has left behind though, a lasting legacy of many students who continue her musical talents. Rest in peace
My condolences
Comment | Posted at 12:12am via Condolence

Donna Hensil Taub

Mrs Curtiss made such an impact on me as a bassoonist. I was scared to death of her but came to realize she was a teddy bear I loved her mandatory Halloween party, the artifacts from their travels, the lessons, the quintet rehearsals and Mr Curtiss burning eggplant for baba Ganoush. Mrs Curtiss, thanks for the tough love, knowledge and guidance. RIP.
Comment | Posted at 12:00pm via Condolence


Shirley taught bassoon to my son, Eric, for about 3 years while he was in high school. She motivated him tremendously in his
bassoon playing, deepening his interest and connections to music by bringing him into her Settlement Music school ensembles. I admired her level of interest in him, especially because he was not going on be a musician, as it was not his main focus. I think she simply loved those who loved music, regardless of what they were going to do in life. Because of her time and attention to him, he played in college, and also joined an ensemble outside of School. He still plays today as a 26 year old. She was wonderful to work with and always a supportive teacher. She will be missed. Darlene & Alan Cohn, Penn Valley, PA
Comment | Posted at 09:46am via Condolence

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