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Dvorák to Duke EllingtonA Conductor Rediscovers America's Music and Its African-American Roots$
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Maurice Peress

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195098228

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195098228.001.0001

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Ellington's Black, Brown and Beige

Ellington's Black, Brown and Beige

(p.171) 17 Ellington's Black, Brown and Beige
Dvorák to Duke Ellington

Maurice Peress

Oxford University Press

Ellington's signature work, as a symphonic suite for the Chicago Symphony and reconstructed and returned to Carnegie Hall in its original form for a jazz band, was premiered in 1943. The chapter reveals the work's unusual genesis — Ellington's own narrative poem about the history of the negro in America — and explores Ellington's extraordinary compositional techniques. It demonstrates how complex the compositional process was that created his seemingly happy-go-lucky music; how even the defining idea of jazz-inspired music — a tenor saxophonist “taking off” on an improvised flight for example — was controlled, bent, premeditated by Ellington in the service of his muse; and how he crafted his music from his own poetry.

Keywords:   Chicago Symphony, Carnegie Hall, jazz, Ellington, poetry

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