Presentation on theme: "He played for the royalty and for the common people and by the end of his fifty-year career, he had played over 20,000 performances worldwide. He was."— Presentation transcript:
He played for the royalty and for the common people and by the end of his fifty-year career, he had played over 20,000 performances worldwide. He was The Duke - Duke Ellington.
Edward Kennedy Ellington was born into the world on April 28, 1899 in Washington, D.C. Duke’s parents, Daisy Kennedy Ellington and James Edward Ellington, served as ideal role models for young Duke, and taught him everything from proper table manners to an understanding of the emotional power of music.
Beginning keyboard studies at the age of seven, Ellington's earliest influences were the ragtime pianists. (Can you name one?) Duke heard of a hot pianist named Harvey Brooks. Duke sought Harvey out in Philadelphia where he showed Duke some piano tricks and shortcuts.
Duke later said, "When I got home I had a real yearning to play. I hadn’t been able to get off the ground before, but after hearing him I said to myself, ‘Man you’re going to have to do it.’" Thus the music career of Duke Ellington was born.
Duke was taken under the wings of Oliver "Doc" Perry and Louis Brown who taught Duke how to read music and helped improve his piano playing skills. Duke found piano playing jobs at clubs and cafes throughout the Washington area. Three months shy of graduation, he dropped out of school and began his professional music career.
Duke formed his first band in 1917. By 1919, they were playing all around Washington D.C.
In 1923, Duke moved his band to New York City, where he got a lot of radio play from performing in local establishments, most notably the famous “Cotton Club”.
The radio was becoming more popular, and Duke’s “Washingtonian’s” were soon one of the most popular bands in America.
You are listening to Nat King Cole, who made such hits as “Mood Indigo” and “Caravan” popular with his smooth, elegant style. Ellington understood the commercial value of singers.
Some other singers that performed with Ellington’s band included: Sarah Vaughn Billie Holiday Ella Fitzgerald Louis Armstrong
While listening to his group perform, he would often alter his songs using instruments not usually in his group so as to produce a better record. Click on the green camera to see a video of Duke in the recording studio. Ellington also understood the value of music for home use. Video: Record Making with Duke Ellington
By creating recordings made especially for listeners at home, he and his group became very popular.
His band’s singers brought the group to the top of the pop charts – successfully plugging popular selections while he also wrote more serious music.
Ellington wrote many other kinds of pieces besides just music for his Big Band. This is a scene from a musical he composed.
Duke Ellington was a composer in the truest sense. He wrote chamber music, concertos, and a musical – “Sophisticated Ladies.”
Duke Ellington and his band went on to play everywhere from New York to New Delhi, Chicago to Cairo, and Los Angeles to London.
When many other Big Bands called it quits in the early 50’s, Ellington’s band continued on strong. Video: Duke Ellington It Don’t Mean a Thing (1943)
Ellington and his band played with such greats as Miles Davis, Cab Calloway, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, and Louis Armstrong. They entertained everyone from Queen Elizabeth II to President Nixon. Video: Duke Ellington Satin Doll
Over the course of his career, Duke Ellington would come to be recognized not just as a great band leader and performer, but as one of the truly great composers of American Music. The Smithsonian museum has an exhibit dedicated to his life.
By the time of his passing, he was considered amongst the world’s greatest composers and musicians. The French government honored him with their highest award, the Legion of Honor, while the government of the United States bestowed upon him the highest civil honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Duke Ellington died of cancer in 1974.