Who was Duke Ellington?
Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington (April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974) was an American composer, pianist, and leader of a jazz orchestra from 1923 through the rest of his life.
Ellington was born on April 29, 1899, to James Edward Ellington and Daisy Ellington in Washington, D.C. Both his parents were pianists. At age seven, Ellington began taking piano lessons from Marietta Clinkscales. Daisy surrounded her son with dignified women to reinforce his manners and teach him elegance. His childhood friends noticed that his casual, offhand manner and dapper dress gave him the bearing of a young nobleman, so they began calling him "Duke".
A master at writing miniatures for the three-minute 78 rpm recording format, Ellington wrote or collaborated on more than one thousand compositions; his extensive body of work is the largest recorded personal jazz legacy, and many of his pieces have become standards. He was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize Special Award for music in 1999.