Duke Ellington (1899-1974), a composer, conductor, and pianist, was one of the most respected figures in the history of jazz, and brought jazz into concert halls and religious services. He was born Edward Kennedy Ellington in Washington, D.C., and played professionally from the age of 17. In 1923 he moved to New York City and organized a ten-piece band. Through the 1930s and 1940s Ellington and his band, greatly enlarged, appeared in theatres and nightclubs, on the radio and in foreign tours.
Among his most famous songs are "Mood Indigo" (1931), "Sophisticated Lady" (1933), and "Solitude" (1934). His large-scale works include Black, Brown, and Beige (1943), Liberian Suite (1948), A Concert of Sacred Music (1965), and Far East Suite (1967); scores for the motion pictures Anatomy of a Murder (1959) and Paris Blues (1961); and for the musical comedies BEGGAR'S OPERA (1947) and POUSSE-CAFÃ0 (1966). Ellington's autobiography is Music Is My Mistress (1973). SOPHISTICATED LADIES, a theatrical retrospective of his work, opened on Broadway in 1981 and garnered 8 Tony Award Nominations, including one for Best Musical.