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Aug 14, 2017 Washington, D.C.

The White House Historical Association today announced the upcoming release of its newest publication, Music at the White House, a fascinating book detailing the musical ceremonies and performances at the White House as well as musical interests of the presidents and their families that will be released in early October. This new edition, updated from the award-winning title first published in 1986, is expanded to include the role of music during the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, William J. Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama as well as the first months of the Donald J. Trump Administration.

Award-winning author and musicologist Elise Kirk traces the story of more than 200 years of musical performance in the White House to present the tale of the American process of music-making—how music in a democracy has been absorbed, shaped, transformed, and perceived from the period of George Washington to early in the Donald J. Trump administration. Whether dramatic or abstract, vernacular or cultivated, music can mold the political process and shape a historic event in a manner like no other. The authoritative and scholarly narrative is supported by a collection of more than 400 images, which includes White House musical programs from the White House archives; period photographs of musicians and performers dating back to the Lincoln administration and newly commissioned photography.

In her foreword, acclaimed American soprano Jessye Norman explains, "For more than two centuries, music has been understood as an integral part of the myriad-cultured educated life of our presidents and their families. Their personal inspiration and enjoyment has gone hand-in-hand with the official presentation of countless performances in the East Room. The long list of musicians of all genres who have crossed that welcoming, intimate stage is at once storied and magnificent…This book on the glorious mosaic of music at the White House shows us who we are and what we strive to be: One nation."

Stewart McLaurin, President of the White House Historical Association notes: “Since 1962, the award-winning books produced by the White House Historical Association have, through narrative and imagery, opened a door to the rich history of life lived in the world’s most celebrated presidential home. But through music, Elise Kirk brings yet another dimension to this uniquely American story. Observing that there is ‘a part of each of us in the music that is performed in the White House,’ she sets the stage so that we can experience for ourselves through the changing circumstances of each presidential administration, two-hundred years of patriotic, popular, orchestral, classical, folk, jazz, rock, and rhythm and blues performed by the Marine Band, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, Pablo Cassals, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, and hundreds of others.”

To learn more about the White House Historical Association, please visit

Casebound with dust jacket

9.25” x 11.25”, 424 pages

ISBN 978-1-931917-69-8


To pre-order the book, please visit or call toll-free 1-800-555-2451.

For all media inquiries, author interviews, image requests, or a copy of the book, contact

About the Author

Elise K. Kirk Ph.D., is an award-winning author, lecturer and musicologist, whose articles have appeared in Opera News, White House History, The Cambridge Companion to Twentieth Century Opera, and numerous other publications. Her books include American Opera and Music at the White House: A History of the American Spirit, which won the distinguished ASCAP/Deems Taylor Award. As a presidential appointee, Dr. Kirk served on the National Advisory Board of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She is a Director Emeritus of the White House Historical Association.

About the white house historical association

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy envisioned a restored White House that conveyed a sense of history through its decorative and fine arts. She sought to inspire Americans, especially children, to explore and engage with American history and its presidents. In 1961, the nonprofit, nonpartisan White House Historical Association was established to support her vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion’s legacy for generations to come. Supported entirely by private resources, the Association’s mission is to assist in the preservation of the state and public rooms, fund acquisitions for the White House permanent collection, and educate the public on the history of the White House. Since its founding, the Association has given more than $50 million to the White House in fulfillment of its mission.

To learn more about the White House Historical Association, please visit

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