University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Black, Brown, and Beige:
A Centennial Tribute to Duke Ellington

An exhibition celebrating the life of Edward Kennedy Ellington is on display, February - May 7, 1999, on the first floor of the Morris Library, South College Avenue, on the University of Delaware campus in Newark.  The UD exhibition consists of books, photographs, printed music, sound recordings, and Internet resources and provides a brief commemorative of his life and work.  In addition to addressing the highlights of his career, the exhibition seeks to convey some of Ellington's many contributions to African American music and culture, and the ways in which he has enhanced the American musical landscape.  The display, curated by Carol A. Rudisell, is free and open to the public.

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The Early Years

Edward "Duke" Ellington, one of America's greatest composers, was born April 29, 1899.  Influenced by the sound of early ragtime musicians, Ellington began performing in small bands in the Washington, D.C. area while still in high school.  In the early 1920s, Ellington and his band, "The Washingtonians," relocated to New York City where his career as composer, pianist and bandleader would flourish.

Duke Ellington.
Music Is My Mistress.  Garden City, N.Y.:  Doubleday, 1973.

Wynton Marsalis.
"Ellington at 100: Reveling in Life's Majesty." New York Times, Sunday, 17 January 1999, sec. 2, p. 1.

W. E. Timner.
Ellingtonia:  The Recorded Music of Duke Ellington and His Sidemen. Lanham, Md.:   Scarecrow Press, 1996.

Mark Tucker.
Ellington:  The Early Years.  Urbana:  University of Illinois Press, 1991.

Barry Ulanov.
Duke Ellington.  New York:  Da Capo Press, 1975.


Harlem Nights and the Cotton Club

Duke Ellington achieved national attention during the late 20s and early 30s when he worked at Harlem's famous Cotton Club, an establishment which regularly featured African American entertainers, but which discouraged blacks as clientele.

James Lincoln Collier.
Duke Ellington.  New York:  Oxford University Press, 1987.

Duke Ellington and His Orchestra.
Hot in Harlem.  MCA Records.  MCA 1359.  Phonograph record.
On loan from the University of Delaware Music Resource Center.

John Edward Hasse.
Beyond Category:  The Life and Genius of Duke Ellington. New York:  Simon & Schuster, 1993.

Stephen Longstreet.
Storyville to Harlem:  Fifty Years in the Jazz Scene. New Brunswick:  Rutgers University Press, 1986.

Peter Watrous.
"Ellington Emerges, Falters and Triumphs; Catching The Spirit Of a Century." New York Times, Sunday, 17 January 1999, sec. 2, p. 32.


The Swing Era and Beyond

Ellington's career continued to expand during the Swing Era which promoted the type of big band music that he had long been composing and performing.  He debuted at Carnegie Hall in 1943 when he performed, among other things, an extensive piece, "Black, Brown and Beige,"  that was intended to capture musically the historical experience of African Americans.   Ellington's career entered a more quiet stage during the World War II years and the period following, but his electrifying performance at the Newport Jazz Festival in July 1956 again brought him to the attention of the American public.  Duke Ellington's vast musical heritage has been preserved in a variety of mediums for future generations of music enthusiasts and scholars to enjoy.

Duke Ellington.
Ellington at Newport.  Columbia Jazz Masterpieces.  CJ 40587.  Phonograph record.
On loan from the University of Delaware Music Resource Center.

Duke Ellington.
 Sophisticated Lady.  Bluebird RCA.  BMG Music 07863 61071-2.  Compact sound disc.
On loan from the University of Delaware Music Resource Center.

"Mood Indigo & Beyond."  Time.  30 August 1956, 54-56.

Billy Strayhorn.
Take the "A" Train.  Washington, DC:  Smithsonian Institution, 1993.


The Later Years

Duke Ellington composed and performed right up until his death on May 24, 1974, with many of his later pieces being spiritual or sacred in content.  His orchestra, The Duke Ellington Orchestra, continued even after his death, under the leadership of his son, Mercer Ellington.

Roy DeCarava.
"Duke Ellington, 1967."  Roy DeCarava: A Retrospective. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1996.

Duke Ellington.
Duke Ellington Sacred Concerts.  Miami Beach:  Hansen House, n.d.

Duke Ellington.
Duke Ellington's Concert of Sacred Music.  RCA Victor.  LSP 3582.  Phonograph record.
On loan from the University of Delaware Music Resource Center.

Duke Ellington.
Sacred Concert No. 1.  New York:  Charles Hansen, n.d.

Duke Ellington.
Sacred Concert No. 3.  New York:  Charles Hansen, n.d.

Mercer Ellington.
Duke Ellington in Person:  An Intimate Memoir.   Boston:  Houghton Mifflin Co., 1978.

Wayne Enstice.
Jazz Spoken Here:  Conversations with Twenty-Two Musicians. Baton Rouge:  Louisiana State University Press, 1992.


Backgrounds for Special Collections' web pages are adapted from paper samples
from our extensive holdings related to printing and the books arts.
This is "Toyama."

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