In 1958, on the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Society for Jewish Folk Music, the composer Solomon Rosowsky published a short memoir, in which he recalled a joke from his student days a half century earlier: “Why are there so many Jewish students at the St. Petersburg Conservatory? Because it is the only school in the Russian Empire with a quota for non-Jewish students.”Rosowsky’s joke was pure hyperbole. But it stemmed from a strange fact. On the eve of World War I, over 50% of the St. Petersburg Conservatory student body, or roughly 1200 students, were Jewish. This was at a time when Jews formed roughly four percent of the total Russian imperial population and stringent admissions quotas limited the total official Jewish student percentage in other Russian university-level educational institutions to 7.3 percent (about 2500 students). The statistical disparity effectively meant that nearly one in every three Jewish university-level students in the late Russian Empire was a musician at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. While the rest of the Russian educational world strenuously denied Jews entry, Russia’s greatest musical academy welcomed them with open arms.