White House Steinways – Since 1903
1600 Pennsylvania Ave in Washington, D.C. The home of the President of the United States… and multiple pianos? Like other countries, music is rooted in American history, so it is no wonder that pianos of various makers have found their way into one of the world’s most well known political residences. Since 1903, the showpiece grand piano in the White House has been a Steinway Model D. Read on for more!
The Current Piano – Steinway #300000
Steinway & Sons recognized the honor, prestige, and yes, marketing value that came with having their instrument reside in the home of the President of the United States. The most well-known piano in the White House is a 1938 Steinway & Sons Art Case Model D Concert Grand #300000 veneered in mahogany. Resting on legs resembling American Bald Eagles, this piano features motifs depicting traditional American music.
Designed by Eric Gugler, this art case instrument features a unique and somewhat antiquated square case design, reminiscent of early, pre-modern pianos combined with lines indicative of mid-century modern influence. A unique, matching bench accompanies the instrument. Due to the art case design, the piano’s cabinet is approx. seven inches longer than a Sketch 380 Model D. However, the inner workings of the instrument are identical to a standard Steinway Concert Grand.
This piano was rebuilt/restored in 1979 by Steinway & Sons, New York. It is still utilized for concerts and White House social functions.
The First White House Steinway – Steinway #100000
Steinway & Sons Model #300000 replaced the first White House Steinway, Concert Grand Model D #100000. This instrument was presented to the White House and then-President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903. This magnificent instrument was hand-carved and featured artwork painted by Thomas W. Dewing. The presentation of this instrument aided in cementing Steinway & Sons as an all-American company.
Gilded in gold, this instrument served through the presidential administrations of Theodore Roosevelt, William H. Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin Roosevelt. Steinway Model D #100000 now resides in the collection of the Smithsonian Institute on loan. Both this piano and Steinway Model D #300000 are considered owned by the White House. Many Presidents have owned and/or brought their own musical instruments with them. George Washington owned a square grand piano built by Schoene & Viunsen of London!
One personal piano of note helped spark the full renovation of the White House itself! Margaret Truman, the daughter of President Harry Truman brought her grand piano with her when she moved into the White House. The decaying structure of the building became evident when one of the three legs burst through the old floorboards! This helped show the need for a full rebuilding of the historic residence.
The history and legacy of the piano are woven throughout the history of America. From George Washington’s square to today’s White House Steinway #300000, the piano is the musical instrument most linked to the White House. The grand piano is truly the king (or in this case, president) of musical instruments!
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