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The Gilded Steinway: Music in Theodore Roosevelt's White House
In collaboration with the White House Historical Association
Evening Program with Performance
Thursday, December 12, 2019 - 6:30 p.m.
Great pianists of the time performed on the Steinway piano in TR’s White House (White House Historical Association)
The musical life of the White House during Theodore Roosevelt’s administration was rich, diverse, energetic, and distinguished by a number of White House firsts: the first full concert by a noted pianist; the first musicale devoted to a single opera; the first performance on a clavichord; and the first East Room piano.
That piano was the 100,000th made by Steinway and Sons, which presented it to the president in 1903. The instrument is a work of art, covered in gold leaf and decorated with the coats of arms of the 13 original states. Roosevelt commissioned the painting under the lid, executed by Thomas Wilmer Ewing, to represent the nine muses being received by the young republic America.
It was played by the greatest pianists of the period, including Josef Hofmann, Ferruccio Busoni, and Sergei Rachmaninoff. The piano remained in the East Room until it was replaced by a new Steinway during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt and is now part of the collection of the Smithsonian's American History Museum.
Author, lecturer, and musicologist, Elise Kirk offers an overview of Roosevelt-era music, highlighted by a performance on a replica of the original piano, made by Steinway.
All participants receive a copy of Kirk’s book, Music in the White House From the 18th to the 21st Centuries (White House Historical Association).
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