Duke Ellington

American composer, pianist and jazz conductor (Washington, 1899 - New York, 1974)

Pillar of 20th century American music with a career that lasted more than fifty years, Duke Ellington is one of the undisputed names in jazz music. His work, of about three thousand compositions, is the widest in jazz history and many of his pieces are considered today as essential standards.

Ellington knew how to make jazz an art and not just music, giving both intelligence to a music made for dancing and a wiggling to an intellectual music. His first concerts in 1926 at the Cotton Club soon led Ellington to a dazzling fame, already directing his own "big band" composed of musicians such as saxophonist Johnny Hodges, and trumpet player Cootie Williams. In 1933, after a tour with his orchestra in England, Duke Ellington received recognition from many composers of so-called "serious" music, awakening in him a desire to approach a deeper composition method.

At the end of World War II, Ellington's fame faded in favor of new "bebop" jazz bands and singers like Frank Sinatra; it is only after the Newport Jazz Festival in 1956 – one of his career’s legendary concerts - that he found the appreciation of a new and wider audience. Rewarded many times by awards such as the Pulitzer award or the Légion d’Honneur, Duke Ellington not only contributed to the evolution of jazz during the twentieth century, but also played a pivotal role in the history of the genre.

Five landmark dates in the life of Duke Ellington

1914: Ellington composed his first piece

1933: Tour in England

1955: Newport Jazz Festival

1965: First concert of the series "Sacred Concerts", a mix of jazz and religion.

1966: Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award

Five key works by Duke Ellington

1927: The Chronological Duke Ellington & His Orchestra 1924-1927

1934: Jubilee Stomp

1941: Take the A Train

1957: Ellington at Newport

1973: Duke's Big 4

Official website: http://www.dukeellington.com/