Ellington, Duke (1899–1974) By Garlitz, Dustin
Duke Ellington was an American jazz composer, pianist, and big-band leader who authored over 1,000 compositions throughout his career. Having studied piano since the age of seven, Ellington relocated to New York City as part of the Great Migration and became a prominent musical figure in the Harlem Renaissance. He recorded full-length studio albums in quartet and trio settings with high modernists John Coltrane and Charles Mingus. Ellington was posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation on the centennial of his birth in 1999, recognising his musical genius, his evocation of the principles of democracy through jazz, and his significant contributions to modern culture and the arts. Giddins and DeVeaux (2009) argue that Ellington’s compositions have been the most performed pieces in jazz written by any one composer.