Duke Ellington

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Early Life

  • He started piano lessons at 7 years old
  • His first professional debut was at 17 years old
  • He had a talent in graphic arts
  • He grew up in middle-class
  • His parents were very religious
  • He didn't like the piano at first
  • He was taught to play by sound to ear even though it was difficult


  • His first band was the Washingtonians
  • The Great Depression was a huge influence
  • Discrimination played a big role in his music
  • His first song "Soda Fountain Rag", was inspired by his first job as a soda jerk

Time Period

  • His most productive years were the 1930's
  • The Great Depression was during this time
  • Many people were jobless and running out of money
  • The country was weakened
  • There was a lot of discrimination at the time
  • Almost nobody had money

Their Music

  • He played almost all Jazz
  • He composed all of his song
  • Most of his songs were longer than most
  • He often used muted brass in his songs
  • He used a piano style "Ragtime" very regularly
  • He sometimes showcased talented individual musicians

Interesting Facts

  • He was born April 29th 1899 - He died may 24th 1974
  • He was was born in Washington D.C.
  • He died in New York City
  • Many of his best performers stayed with him for years
  • He wrote the Washingtonians' theme song "Take the a Train"
  • He was a pianist, composer, and orchestra leader
  • He composed thousands of songs