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Duke Ellington - Essay Example

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Duke Ellington

To write everything in just two pages would be impossible, so let's deal with the most important ones. To begin with we'd have to deal with Duke Ellington's origins. James Edward Ellington (Duke's father) who made blueprints for the navy and worked both as a carpenter and a White House butler, and Daisy (Kennedy) Ellington (Duke's mother) were strongly religious people belonging to the middle class black families in the USA. Both of them could play the piano well, and exposed their son to music at an early age (with "Miss Clinkscales"- his piano teacher, as he nicknamed her), hoping he would learn the piano and start playing the church organ later. However, E. K. "Duke" Ellington showed as more interested in drawing and painting at the time than in music. He created a poster and won a prize from the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) for it. He became interested in music in his teenage years (in high school) after all, because he realized girls liked piano players, so he continued his piano lessons. At the age of fifteen he worked in a soda-shop after school. This experience led to his first composition, a jazz song titled as "Soda Fountain Rag". That was the time when he got his nickname Duke. Why and how he got it can only be speculated because there are so many stories about it (Duke Ellington Biography, http://www.musicguide/biographies/160800462/Duke-Ellington.html ).
Duke dropped out of high school and started playing in jazz bands by night and painted signs as a freelancer during the day to make a living. Good looking, he married relatively young on July 2, 1918 to Edna Thompson. His only son from this marriage, Mercer, took leadership over the band after his death.
What should be said about Duke's personality and appearances It could be seen the best from his personal quotes like "I'm a telephone freak, the greatest invention since peanut brittle" or when asked about how he got the scar on his face he replied " I have four stories about it, and it depends on which you like the best. One is a taxicab accident; another is that I slipped and fell on a broken bottle; then there is a jealous woman, and last is Old Heidelberg, where they used to stand toe to toe with a saber in each hand, and slash away. The first man to step back lost the contest, no matter how many times he's sliced the other. Take your pick." Also, in regards to his personality, we must add his own words and views on races and categories: "I don't believe in categories of any kind, and when you speak of problems between blacks and whites in the USA, you are referring to categories again" (Duke Ellington - Biography, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0254153/bio ).
Duke Ellington spent most part of his life on the road. Speaking of successful touring and performing, one mustn't neglect and forget the fact about Duke's restless and ambitious character. Although Duke grew up surrounded by people from the middle class, he became a man of dignity and tended to reach for higher goals in his life. He visited New York in 1923 for the first time, but before settling in New York he played together with Sonny Greer (a drummer from New Jersey), Otto Hardwicke and Arthur Whetsol in Wisconsin and Atlantic City. He assembled several ...Show more

Summary

Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington, one of the founding fathers of jazz music, and a worldwide famous composer, arranger, musician and bandleader, was born in Washington, D.C., on April 29, 1899. Ellington was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1966, about 13 other Grammy Awards, then The President's Gold Medal in 1966 by President Lyndon Johnson, The Medal of Freedom in 1969 by President Richard Nixon…
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