In the first rank of American composers, Duke Ellington was-to use a favorite phrase of his own-"beyond category." He produced what has been called the "single most impressive body of composition in American jazz": more than two thousand compositions that ranged from such popular classics as "Satin Doll" and "Sophisticated Lady" to extended works such as Black, Brown and Beige, which premiered at Carnegie Hall in 1943. Ellington continually expanded his work as a composer and bandleader, composing for Broadway (Beggar's Opera) and Hollywood (including the film score for Anatomy of a Murder), undertaking extensive international tours, and working with younger jazz musicians such as John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach. He received the 1965 Pulitzer Prize for his long-term achievement and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969.
Duke Ellington: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Composer
Duke Ellington: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Pianist
Duke Ellington: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Jazz
Duke Ellington: Presidential Medal of Freedom
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Tony Bennett
Deed of Gift transfers copyright to NPG
In the first rank of American composers, Duke Ellington was "beyond category": his more than 2,000 jazz compositions include "Satin Doll" and "Sophisticated Lady," as well as Black, Brown and Beige and the later "Sacred Concerts." Legendary performer Tony Bennett (born Anthony Benedetto), who has had a lifelong interest in painting, here portrays the man he celebrated as his mentor. "When I worked on his portrait, I was inspired by the look of divine serenity on his face," Bennett noted, and he inscribed the painting, "God Is Love." Whenever Ellington completed a new piece, he sent Bennett roses to mark the occasion, and their presence here reflects the close bond the two artists shared.
When Duke Ellington was reaching for the ultimate compliment, his phrase of choice was often "beyond category." No one more deserved that description than Ellington himself, whose preeminence in the world of jazz is unassailable. As a bandleader, he produced sounds that all admired but none could replicate, and as a composer, he authored what has justly been described as "the single most impressive body of composition in American jazz." Among his more than two thousand original pieces are such classics as "Sophisticated Lady," "Satin Doll," and "Mood Indigo," along with more extended and serious works such as Liberian Suite and Harlem.
The holder of many honors, Ellington received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969; by the time of his death in 1974, many regarded him as America's most important composer.
Most of collection unrestricted and available for on-site research. Portions restricted. Collection still being processed, which occasionally restricts physical access
Born in Washington, D.C., Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington rose to fame at Harlem's Cotton Club in the late 1920s. His career as a musician, composer and bandleader spanned more than 50 years. Among his many compositions are hundreds of short pieces and more ambitious extended works, including operas, ballets, musicals, concert pieces (such as "Black, Brown and Beige") and the "Sacred Concerts." Duke Ellington and his orchestra toured the United States and made frequent successful tours abroad. He was decorated with numerous awards and honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom (presented by Pres. Nixon, 1969). Duke Ellington led his orchestra until his death, when it was taken over by his son, Mercer
Orchestrations (scores and parts), music manuscripts, lead sheets, transcriptions, and sheet music make up some of the Duke Ellington Collection. Also includes concert posters, concert programs; television, radio, motion picture and musical theater scripts; business records, correspondence, awards, as well as audiotapes, audiodiscs, photographs, tour itineraries, newspaper clippings, magazines, caricatures, paintings, and scrapbooks, all from the heyday of Duke Ellington (1920's-1975)
Duke Ellington Collection, 1920's-1975, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
7 nearly identical prints from same negative: Ellington wearing jacket and tie, with large cufflinks on shirt, with a sheet of music on the table. Five of the prints are warm-toned without identification; two cold-tone prints, probably intended as publicity photographs, bear Fabian Bachrach's imprint on the front and rubber stamp on the verso
Duke Ellington Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Dr. Theodore Shell Collection of Duke Ellington Ephemera, 1933-1990
Shell, Theodore Dr (dentist)
Ellington, Duke 1899-1974
0.5 cu. ft.: 1 box
1993.3189 (NMAH Acc.)
Dentist and amateur photographer, Theodore Shell graduated from Shaw University in 1937 and served 5 years in the military during WWII. He received his dentistry degree from Howard University in 1950 and founded chapter 90 of the Duke Ellington Society in the late 1950s
Periodical articles, news clippings, concert programs, radio transcripts, personal correspondence, broadsides, photographs, and pencil sketches collected by Dr. Shell. The material documents part of Duke Ellington's music career, especially ca. 1940-1974
Dr. Theodore Shell Collection of Duke Ellington Ephemera, 1933-1990, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Max Kaminsky: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Jazz
Max Kaminsky: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Horn\Trumpet
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Born Washington, D.C.
"Music is my mistress, and she plays second fiddle to no one," exclaimed the famed composer, bandleader, and pianist Duke Ellington. During a career that spanned six decades, he rose to international stardom and helped to reshape the contours of American music. Raised in Washington, D.C., Ellington formed his first jazz band at age nineteen. He made a name for himself in the late 1920s at the Cotton Club in Harlem, where he performed a regular gig that was broadcast nationally on the radio. With songs such as "Solitude" and "In a Sentimental Mood," Ellington achieved widespread popularity with diverse audiences. He first performed abroad in 1933, and so successful were his concerts that he later toured the globe under the auspices of the U.S. State Department. In this photograph, Ellington is seated at the piano; playing trumpet beside him are the famed musicians Dizzy Gillespie (left) and Buck Clayton (right).
William Russo Transcription and Arrangement of Duke Ellington's First Concert of Sacred Music, ca. 1967-68
Russo, William 1928-2003
Ellington, Duke 1899-1974
Columbia College (Chicago) Contemporary American Music Program
0.5 cu. ft.: 1 box
Choruses, Sacred (Mixed voices) with instrumental ensemble
1991.3019 (NMAH Acc.)
Russo stated that Duke Ellington loaned him the music in 1967-1968
William Russo was the Director of the Contemporary American Music Program at Columbia College, Chicago. Active in music from 1947 until his death in 2003, he toured Europe as the leader of a quintet; lived in London, where he conducted the London Jazz Orchestra and worked with the BBC; and lived and taught in New York and Chicago. Russo was noted in the fifties as a composer of experimental music for Stan Kenton's orchestra and Third Stream Music for the Russo orchestra. He has been a trombonist, composer, arranger, and conductor
Full conductor score, orchestral parts, and choral parts to "In the Beginning God," "Tell Me It's the Truth," "The Lord's Prayer," "Ain't But the One"
William Russo Transcription and Arrangement of Duke Ellington's First Concert of Sacred Music, 1967-1968, Archives Center, National Museum of American History