John F. Kennedy

In the flood of commentary and reminiscences brought forth by the fiftieth anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s death, little has been said of his tastes in music. Timothy English, author of Popology: The Music of the Era in the Lives of Four Icons of the 1960s, notes that “JFK’s favorite song was undoubtedly the wistful ‘September Song'” from Knickerbocker Holiday with lyrics by Maxwell Anderson. Kennedy is said to have preferred Walter Huston’s final recording of the song, from the 1950 film September Affair. Huston also made the very first recording of the song in 1938, shortly after he created the role of Pieter Stuyvesant on Broadway; he helped to make “September Song” one of Weill’s most popular songs, as it remains to this day.

A search of the Foundation’s CD collection turned up earlier evidence of Kennedy’s predilection for “September Song.”


Music of the Kennedy White House, a CD released in 2001 by Museum Music (MM113), the recording label of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, contains not only Huston’s rendition of “September Song” but also Ella Fitzgerald’s famous version of “Mack the Knife” from her 1960 concert in Berlin. Jonathan Romeo, author of the liner notes, described both songs as “personal favorites” of President and Mrs. Kennedy. The CD cover is displayed above.