Edward Kennedy Ellington

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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His name was Edward Kennedy Ellington, but everybody called him Duke, a nickname that was given to him by a friend, just before he entered high school, as a tribute to his elegance and regal bearing.