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The Music Quest: Answer 7

About This Daily Classroom Special
The Music Quest  focuses on discovering the wonders of our musical universe. Visit it for a musical question—a description and hints about a mystery composer, musician, instrument or musical excerpt.
The Music Quest was written  by former Teachers Network Web Mentor Kristi Thomas, a teacher at  William F. Halley Elementary School Fairfax Station, Virginia.

Answer  7

Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington is considered by many to be one of the greatest composers and musicians of the twentieth century. In an amazing career spanning over fifty years, Duke Ellington wrote nearly 2,000 compositions. His development was one of the most spectacular in the history of music, underscored by a lifetime of achievement as a jazz composer, bandleader and recording artist.

Duke Ellington's innovations helped to redefine much of the popular music of his time. He synthesized many of the different popular forms of American music - the minstrel song, ragtime, Tin Pan Alley tunes, and the blues, into a style which became his own. Duke Ellington changed American music forever.

April 29,1999 marked the centennial of the birth of Duke Ellington. The Ellington Centennial has been a year-long acknowledgement of Ellington's contributions to American music and society in the 100th anniversary of his birth. People around the world celebrated the life of this great musician with thousands of concerts and tributes.

Duke Ellington was born in Washington, D.C in 1899. He studied piano from the age of seven and was influenced by stride piano masters like Fats Waller and James P. Johnson. By 1923 he had moved to New York City and had his own band, the Washingtonians. He later formed the Duke Ellington Orchestra, which by 1930 had grown to include twelve musicians and achieved national prominence through radio broadcasts, recordings and film appearances.

By the early 1940's, Ellington was experimenting with many forms of music, and his orchestra toured the United States and Europe extensively. He inaugurated a series of annual concerts at New York City's famed Carnegie Hall with the 1943 premiere of Black, Tan and Beige. Ellington continued to expand the scope of his compositions and his activities as a bandleader throughout his remarkable life.

This biography contain excerpts from program notes written by Stanley Crouch for past Jazz at Lincoln Center concerts featuring Ellington's music.  


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