Today in History: Duke Ellington

Through the Looking Glass Down Beat magazine (Sept. 23, 1946)
Today in History–April 29–the Library of Congress features jazz great Duke Ellington, born on this date in 1899. Ellington started to play piano at age 7 and wrote his first song–Soda Fountain Rag–at age 15. By his late teens, he was earning enough money to help his parents move into a better house. Ellington’s musical versatility was astounding and not limited to jazz; he also wrote oratorios, suites, concertos, and even opera, as well as for the Broadway stage, movies, television, nightclubs, and more. Frequently working with Billy Strayhorn, Ellington created over 1,500 pieces of music — nearly 6,000, if brief musical interludes are included. Learn more about this musician and composer nonpareil by visiting the Today in History section and clicking the links below.

Duke Ellington image set

Comments by William P. Gottlieb on Photograph of Glen Gray and Duke Ellington (streaming audio)

Choo-choo (I gotta hurry home) song by Duke Ellington (streaming audio)

Duke Ellington historical newspaper coverage

Duke Ellington related legislation

Harlem rent parties (oral history transcript)

Duke Ellington stories from America’s Library

Duke Ellington on the National Film Registry: Jam Session (1942) Now See Hear! blog December 1, 2015

Duke Ellington’s Film Debut Library of Congress Blog April 29, 2013

Happy Birthday Sir Duke In the Muse blog April 29, 2010

Duke Ellington Biography (PBS)

Giants of Jazz: Duke Ellington in exclusive interview from CBC’s Hot Air archive (primary source audio and video recordings and background text)