Skip to main content
Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful
This program is over. Hope you didn't miss it!
Browse other programs we offer.

The Gilded Steinway: Music in Theodore Roosevelt's White House

In collaboration with the White House Historical Association

Evening Program with Performance

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Thursday, December 12, 2019 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1K0003
Select Your Tickets

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).

Smithsonian Year of Music

Decatur House
748 Jackson Pl NW
Washington, DC 20006
Metro: Farragut West