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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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(p.191) Afterword
Dvorák to Duke Ellington

Maurice Peress

Oxford University Press

This final chapter takes a walk through what once was Dvorák's New York neighborhood. It discusses the unsuccessful battle to save the Dvorák House where Dvorák lived from 1892-5. The heightened awareness he brought to the bountiful riches of African American music that helped inspire the Composer-Collector generation — James Weldon Johnson, James Rosamond Johnson, W. C. Handy, Ernest Hogan, and Will Marion Cook — are detailed. It discusses the search for and emergence of a “New African-American Orchestra”, Ford Dabney's theater “roof-top” bands, Hogan and Cook's “Memphis Students Band”, Europe's “Clef Club”, and Cook's “Southern Synchopaters” orchestra, preparing the way for Duke Ellington, “a world-class composer, who stands alone as the foremost American genius who remained loyal to the improvisational, tonal, and rhythmic endowments of African American music”. His universe was an “orchestra” of brilliant jazz artists, one he never found wanting. With a light but firm tether, he drew and followed them along a trail of discovery, leaving glorious artifacts in his path.

Keywords:   James Weldon Johnson, James Rosamond Johnson, W. C. Handy, Will Marion Cook, Ford Dabney, Ernest Hogan, Memphis Students Band, Clef Club, Southern Synchopaters

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