Works Voice(s) & Orchestra 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (1976)


In 1976, Leonard Bernstein and lyricist Alan Jay Lerner presented their eagerly anticipated first Broadway collaboration, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It proved to be their last; the show was a colossal failure, closing after only seven performances.

The show proposed to retell the history of the first hundred years of White House residents: the Presidents and their wives upstairs, and successive generations of a family of servants (at first slaves) downstairs. In its bicentennial year, America was not in the mood to examine its seismic flaws of racial injustice. In any event, the collaborators were so dejected by the show's failure that they withdrew the work entirely. There was not even a cast recording.

A White House Cantata

Bernstein was a resourceful recycler, and some of the 1600 material showed up in later works such as Songfest and A Quiet Place. But the greater part of the score languished in obscurity. In 1997, there was at last a breakthrough of sorts. The Lerner and Bernstein Estates agreed to fashion some of the numbers into a concert work for orchestra, soloists, and choir; the new work was called A White House Cantata. The first performance in 1997 in London resulted in a recording by the London Symphony Orchestra with Kent Nagano conducting. On March 31, 2008, Robert Bass conducted the Collegiate Chorale and the Orchestra of St. Luke's with baritone Dwayne Croft and soprano Emily Pulley in the Cantata's New York premiere.

Audio Details
*Book and Lyrics by Alan J. Lerner. Music by Leonard Bernstein ©1976
Track 54: Davis Gaines, Linda Richardson, Tracy Miller, Ambrosian Chorus (Chorus Master: John McCarthy), London Sinfonietta, conducted by John McGlinn.
℗1992 EMI Records Ltd. EMI CDC 7545862.
Track 55: Frederica von Stade, mezzo soprano, National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leonard Bernstein.
℗1988 Sony Classical Sony CD MK44760 "Bernstein: Songbook".

Related Works

Related Content
Playbill Vault


Book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner (in English)
Broadway Opening:
May 4, 1976. Mark Hellinger Theatre, New York, NY / co-directed and co-choreographed by Gilbert Moses and George Faison
(1997) 90 min
Book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner (in English)
July 8, 1997. Barbican Centre, London, United Kingdom | Nancy Gustafson / Dietrich Henschel / Jacqueline Miura / Thomas Young / London Voices / London Symphony Orchestra / Kent Nagano
Major Roles: S.M.T.B.Bar; Chorus (SATB); 3(II,III=picc).1.2(II=dbcl,ssax).1- perc(2) -harp - gtr(=elec.gtr)-banjo-pft(=synth)-strings
Version Notes
Scenes from "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" in Concert for solo voices, chorus, and orchestra
(arr. 2003) 18 min
Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner (in English)
April 25, 2003. New York, NY, United States | New York Pops / Charles Prince
Version Notes
arranged for orchestra by Charlie Harmon
(1976) 4 min
Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner (in English)
January 19, 1977. Washington, DC, United States | (Inaugural concert for President Jimmy Carter) | Frederica von Stade, soprano / National Symphony Orchestra / Leonard Bernstein
Version Notes
for solo voice and orchestra

Purchasing Licensing Information

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is not available for license. To license A White House Cantata, please contact Boosey & Hawkes. For general licensing inquiries, click here.

To purchase sheet music for "Take Care of this House" from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, please visit our store.


Poster for Original Production

Album Cover for A White House Cantata

Bernstein: Take Care of This House - Lara Downes and Friends

Barbra Streisand - Take Care of This House (Behind the Song)


Review Commentary: Why it’s time to revive Leonard Bernstein’s long-dismissed, race-conscious White House musical From "Los Angeles Times | Mark Swed" 2021

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