The Music Of The Camelot Years

August 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Music

KennedysSeeing this photo of the three Kennedy brothers, Jack, Bobby, and Teddy brings music to my ears, but it`s a sad tune, Ave Maria. I came upon this extraordinary document, Music At the White House by Elise K. Kirk, which is part of the collection of the JFK Presidential Library & Museum. I am hoping you will take a few moments to read it over. As we look back on the life and achievements of Senator Edward Kennedy, we should also reflect back on the lives of his fallen brothers, who left us so long ago.

Let me just say, and in deference to the thrust of this whimsical posting, Jack Kennedy himself had an aversion to music, what with the suffering he endured from his back injury in WWII. However, the article notes that his favorite song was Greensleeves, but most of the honors of coordinating these affairs of the performing arts resided with Jacqueline Lee Bouvier.

The first and last performance at the White House was of bagpipes, entreating the president`s Irish roots; the first one was on the South Lawn on May 3, 1961 by the Air Force Pipers and the Drum and Bugle Corps. Also, I must note the Pablo Casals concert of November 13, 1961, which honored Puerto Rican Governor, Luis Munoz-Marin. This was made into a record album by Columbia with a four page booklet, and featured Mendelssohn`s Trio in D Minor, op. 49 and Schumann`s Adagio and Allegro in A-flat Major, op. 70.

This is exciting! There was “twisting in the historic East Room” one time to the groove of Lester Lanin`s orchestra. An expert, Andrew Burden, modeled the twist for Jack and he really got a kick out of this. This one I can not forget: the day before JFK`s funeral *(the same day Jack Ruby shot Lee Oswald), twenty-four drummers, with drums muffled, solemnly marched with the caisson down Pennsylvania Avenue; this is the Dead March with 100 beats per minute.

What songs do you hear when you think of the Kennedys? High Hopes, Irish Eyes, Abraham, Martin & John? I hear Hail To the Chief, that was played when I saw The President at Rice Stadium in 1962…

Has anybody here, seen my old friend John-
Can you tell me where he`s gone?
He freed a lot of people, but it seems the good, they die young
But I just looked around and he`s gone.