Today in Music History
A Daily Look at Music History For Violin Students
A Look at What Happened on Today's Date
Long, Long Ago . . . Or Maybe Just Last Year
August 13
What Else
August 13, 1976, Duke Ellington’s ballet Three Black Kings was premiered by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was born April 29, 1899--Washington, D.C., started piano lessons at 7 or 8, but had more interest in baseball.
1655 - Johann Christoph Denner, creator of the clarinet (ca. 1700), was born in Germany.

1820 - Sir George Grove (Grove's Dictionary of Music & Musicians) was born in London.

1942 - Jerome Kessler, American cellist-conductor-lawer, was born.

1952 - The original version of Hound Dog was recorded by Willie Mae (Big Mama) Thornton.

1967 - The D.A.R. wouldn't let Joan Baez play at Constitution Hall since she opposed Vietnam War.

1973 - First performance of Thea Musgrave's Viola Concerto. Her husband, Peter Mark, soloist.

1996 - Louise Victoria Talma, American composer, died.
Duke Ellington
Duke's first job was selling peanuts at baseball games, and it was here, learning to attract people's attention and make the sale, that he learned that he could actually get in front of a crowd and "perform."

Duke began to show an artistic streak, and so he enrolled in commercial art courses.  It was at this time that Duke began to seek out and listen to ragtime piano.

During a vacation Duke heard pianist Harvey Brooks, and was enthralled.  He went to Philadelphia to meet with Brooks, and he showed Duke some piano tricks.

Duke said, "I hadn’t been able to get off the ground before, but after hearing him I said to myself, ‘Man you’re going to have to do it.’"
Duke learned to read music, improved his piano skills and found piano jobs at clubs around Washington. He dropped out of school to be a professional musician.
Forming, "The Duke’s Serenaders" in 1917, he played Washington, DC and Virginia. In 1923, Duke moved to New York and renamed his band the "Washingtonians."  This was also the year of his first recording.

Duke became very popular as both a composer and band leader in local radio broadcasts, then gained a national following with live broadcasts of "From the Cotton Club."

Duke and his orchestra were breaking new ground  with "distinctive sound that displayed the non-traditional voicings of Ellington's arrangements, the street rhythms of Harlem and featured the exotic-sounding trombone growls and wah-wahs, high-squealed trumpets, and sultry saxophone blues licks of the band members."

Duke's real emergence as an internationally recognized musician came in the 1950s.  He became so popular that the US State Department sent him on overseas tours to spread goodwill.

Ellington received several honorary degrees, was considered for a Pulitzer Prize and even received the Congressional Medal of Freedom.

Duke Ellington died on May 24, 1974 at seventy-five years of age. His funeral was held in New York's Cathedral of St. John The Divine; he was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.
Duke Ellington
Violin Bag    Brotherhood of the Bow Messenger Bag
Duke Ellington
Can You Guess?
Willie Mae (Big Mama) Thornton recorded the original version of Hound Dog, but most people are familiar with another version recorded by another artist.  Can You Guess whose version of Hound Dog most people probably think of first?  At least one Disney fan should get this one right!

Go to the Bottom of the Page for the Answer
Lilo and Stitch
Did You Guess?
Elvis Presley!  The King! 
Thank you!  Thank you very much!
Bat Boy and Violin
Play the Duke (Violin) - sheet music at Play the Duke (Violin) 11 Ellington Jazz Classics for Violin. Performed by Duke Ellington. By Various Composers. Instrumental Folio. Size 9x12 inches. 16 pages. Published by Hal Leonard. (841522)
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Franz Wohlfahrt: 60 Etudes - sheet music at
Discounted Lesson Books.  Peters,  Schirmer, All Major Publishers.  Click Here!
A Prize Winning Story About Baseball, The Violin, a Boy and His Dad
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Elvis's Version  of Hound Dog
Lilo and Stitch