Edward Kennedy Ellington

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Ellington, Edward Kennedy


(nickname, Duke). Born Apr. 29, 1899, in Washington, D.C.; died May 24, 1974, in New York, N.Y. American Negro jazz-orchestra leader, pianist, and composer. Member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters (1970).

Beginning in 1916, Ellington performed with many jazz bands as a piano soloist. In 1918 he organized the Washingtonians, which, from the 1930’s, comprised virtuoso musicians and with which he toured’ the USA and, between 1933 and 1972, many countries throughout the world. He composed lyric songs, jazz concerti, music for motion pictures and television, the opera Queenie Pie, and symphonic suites; he also wrote numerous arrangements.

An innovative composer, Ellington turned to large-scale cyclic forms in such works as the Sacred Concerts; he also used African instruments, which allowed him to create special sound colors. Prominent singers appeared with his orchestra, which, on occasion, gave concerts in churches. Ellington performed in the USSR in 1971.


Ulanov, B. Duke Ellington. New York [1946].
Duke Ellington: His Life and Music. London, 1958.
Dance, S. The World of Duke Ellington. New York, 1970.


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