The board chair of the Curtis Institute of Music has pledged two new gifts to the school totaling $11.5 million. Baroness Nina von Maltzahn is making a $10 million gift to the endowment to establish the Nina von Maltzahn President's Chair, a post currently held by Roberto Díaz, plus $1.5 million to underwrite the Curtis on Tour program during the next three years.

The endowment gift helps to continue Curtis' tuition-free practice, and the investment in the touring program extends its concerts in Europe, Asia, and South America and related student-recruitment and fund-raising there.

"That is actually how Nina became acquainted with Curtis, through Curtis on Tour, and she believes in it. It is a way for us to develop a presence around the country and around the world," Díaz said.

Efforts by Curtis and other local groups to raise money outside Philadelphia are seen as a positive development by the Philadelphia cultural community, which has traditionally relied on many of the same donors while the entire sector and the costs of operating it have grown in the last two decades. "We are very focused on the fact that we must do this in Philadelphia, but also by strongly looking at raising money from Latin America, Europe, and Asia," Diaz said.

Attempts to reach Maltzahn over the weekend were unsuccessful, but a Curtis spokeswoman said the gifts were from her personally, as well as from her family's Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation. A resident of Uruguay who also spends time in Berlin, New York, and Zurich, Maltzahn became chair of the Curtis board in June, and had given gifts to establish new programs, underwrite faculty chairs, and for Curtis on Tour.

Díaz said that for now, the gifts were not attached to any particular campaign; Curtis plans a drive to increase the endowment, but has not yet arrived at a goal or schedule. "I think [her gift] would probably be part of what gets that going, but nothing has been announced," he said.

The intention, he said, is to raise enough endowment money to keep Curtis tuition-free, and to make Curtis on Tour permanent.