Smithsonian Collections

Duke Ellington

Image for Duke Ellington
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
Exhibition Label
When bestowing the ultimate compliment, Duke Ellington favored the phrase “beyond category”—a superlative that aptly described his own musical achievements. The famed jazz composer, bandleader, pianist, and arranger helped to reshape the contours of American music during a career that spanned half a century. Raised in Washington, D.C., Ellington made his professional debut at seventeen. In the 1920s he became a fixture at Harlem’s celebrated Cotton Club and built a large and diverse following when his orchestra’s performances were relayed nationwide via nightly radio broadcasts. His reputation grew internationally with overseas tours in 1933 and 1939. A prolific composer, Ellington is credited with penning a vast body of work, including the classics “In a Sentimental Mood”(1935) and “Satin Doll” (1958) as well as critically acclaimed concert pieces such as Black, Brown, and Beige (which premiered at Carnegie Hall in 1943) and Harlem (A Tone Parallel to Harlem) in 1950.
Para dar a alguien su mejor elogio, Duke Ellington tenía una frase favorita: “más allá de toda categoría”. Este superlativo describe acertadamente sus propios logros musicales. El afamado compositor, director, pianista y arreglista ayudó a reconfigurar el panorama de la música estadounidense a lo largo de una carrera que abarcó medio siglo. Ellington creció en Washington, D.C., y debutó profesionalmente a los diecisiete años. En la década de 1920 se hizo figura habitual del celebrado Cotton Club de Harlem, y cultivó una fanaticada extensa y diversa gracias a que la música de su orquesta se transmitía por radio cada noche a toda la nación. En el ámbito internacional, su reputación se consolidó con giras en 1933 y 1939. Compositor prolífico, se le atribuye un extenso cuerpo de obras que incluyen clásicos como “In a Sentimental Mood” (1935) y “Satin Doll” (1958), así como piezas de concierto de gran éxito crítico como Black, Brown, and Beige (estrenada en Carnegie Hall en 1943) y Harlem (A Tone Parallel to Harlem) de 1950.
Artist
Herman Leonard, 1923 - 2010
Sitter
Duke Ellington, 29 Apr 1899 - 24 May 1974
Date
1956 (printed 1998)
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Medium
Selenium-toned gelatin silver print
Dimensions
Image: 40.6 × 32cm (16 × 12 5/8")
Sheet: 50.6 × 40.5cm (19 15/16 × 15 15/16")
Frame: 71.8 × 56.5 × 3.8 cm (28 1/4 × 22 1/4 × 1 1/2")
Type
Photograph
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Object number
NPG.2014.111.9
Culture
Duke Ellington: American\African American
Topic
Interior
Music\Musical instrument\Piano
Duke Ellington: Male
Duke Ellington: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Composer
Duke Ellington: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Pianist
Duke Ellington: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Jazz
Duke Ellington: Presidential Medal of Freedom
Portrait
Place
France\Île-de-France\Ville de Paris, Départment de\Paris
Restrictions & Rights
© Herman Leonard Photography LLC