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While neither President nor Mrs. Eisenhower was especially knowledgeable in European classical music, they recognized the value of the music of their own nation and placed more emphasis than any of their predecessors on White House programs that reflected its colorful variety. The Eisenhowers were the first to bring Broadway musical theater to the White House in an after-dinner program for Chief Justice Earl Warren in 1958. They were also especially proud of the nation’s military ensembles, and brought to the White House choral and instrumental groups from the Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as the United States Marine Band, which had been performing at the White House from the time of John Adams. President Eisenhower also initiated the current concept of roving musicians, notably the Air Force Strolling Strings, who performed at the state dinner for the king of Saudi Arabia in 1957. Guest artists under the Eisenhowers also included Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians, Guy Lombardo, and the world-renowned pianist Artur Rubinstein in his only White House concert.

Landmark Era Performance - 1958: The Eisenhowers were the first to bring Broadway musical theater to the White House in an after-dinner program for Chief Justice Earl Warren in 1958.

Broadway stars pose on the South Steps of the White House in 1958.

National Park Service/NARA

Footnotes & Resources

Elise Kirk, Musical Highlights from the White House, 130-134.

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