Bok Zimbalist, Mary Louise Curtis
- Gary Galván
(b Boston, MA, Aug 6, 1876; d Philadelphia, PA, Jan 4, 1970). American writer and music patron. She was the only child of columnist Louisa Knapp Curtis and publisher Cyrus H.K. Curtis, the founder of Ladies’ Home Journal and the Saturday Evening Post, as well as a major Philadelphia philanthropist. She married the Dutch-born Pulitzer Prize-winning author and editor, Edward William Bok, when she was 19.
She became an active supporter of the Settlement Music School (est. 1906) and provided $150,000 to establish its home on Queen Street in Philadelphia in 1917. In 1924, she purchased three mansions on Rittenhouse Square to create the Curtis Institute of Music in honor of her father and provided an unprecedented $12.5 million endowment. With artistic guidance from Josef Hofmann and Leopold Stokowski, she assembled a faculty of world-class performers, tapped former Symphony Club conductor Johann Grolle as its first director, and established a tuition-free, merit-based admission standard. She served on the board of the Philadelphia Orchestra until Stokowski’s departure, sponsored Sunday evening chamber concerts at the Philadelphia Museum of Art that featured Curtis students, and served as board chairman to the Philadelphia Grand Opera Company from ...