Duke, Vernon (b. Vladimir Alexandrovich Dulkelsky)(1903–69) composer; born in Russia. Trained at the Kiev Conservatory, he came to New York City, and, wanting to be a serious composer, wrote a piano concerto for Arthur Rubenstein in 1922. In Paris two years later he wrote a ballet for Sergei Diaghilev and from 1926 to 1929 he wrote stage music in London. (From this point on he tended to use his original Russian name for his serious music and his adopted name for his more popular works.) Back in New York (he became a U.S. citizen in 1936) he became well-known for his stage and film scores; his best-known song was probably "April in Paris" for the revue Walk a Little Faster (1932) while his best-known musical was Cabin in the Sky (1940). He continued to write his music in the classical forms and his concert music was promoted by Serge Koussevitzky.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.