Duke Ellington


The era of Jazz and its popularity quickly grew during the 20th century and brought to light many talented musicians. Of these many musicians was a man named Edward Kennedy Ellington. Born on April 29, 1899, Ellington grew up in a household of music in Washington DC. His father and mother were both pianists. Ellington was always seen as a gentleman where his mannerisms and his clothing resembled that of a man of prestige which eventually led to his nickname of “Duke”. His musical training began at the age of 7 where he started taking piano lessons under Marietta Clinkscales. Ellington developed an interest in art and attended Armstrong Manual Training School and was also a fan of baseball in his early life. Ellington wrote his first composition, “Soda Fountain Rag”, by the age of 15 after being inspired at his job as a soda jerk at the Poodle Dog Café.

Soda Fountain Rag

“Soda Fountain Rag” sounds like such a fun tune to listen to and I’m sure Ellington had a lot of fun writing it. It’s such an upbeat tune that can brighten anyone’s day. This composition is a pretty cool work and gives off a sense of happiness. It’s quite impressive that a 15 year old create this piece.

Duke Ellington was exposed to many ragtime pianists in Washington DC and their works led to his inspiration. At 17 years old, Duke Ellington decided that he would drop out of high school in favor of pursuing his dreams in his music career. His early career started performing in small bands in the Washington DC area until he eventually moved to New York City where his career took off.

Ellington was a part of a band known as “The Washingtonians.” Through performing with his band at many performances in the Kentucky Club and the Cotton Club, he grew in fame and popularity. They recorded many works and became very successful.

Duke Ellington had many impressive accomplishments and made an impact in the world of music. He had created many compositions of his own and with his band. He had held tours in Europe and had produced many hits throughout his career. Duke Ellington will forever be known as one of the many greats of the jazz musicians.