Duke Ellington’s Music for the Theatre
About the Book
Duke Ellington’s son Mercer has said that his father was frustrated in only one area of musical ambition: his desire to do his own Broadway show. Though Ellington wrote many theatrical pieces, he was never able to achieve success as a composer for the stage, and today his stage shows receive little attention from music historians. Nevertheless, these works occupied a significant place in Ellington’s creative imagination, and many of the ideas he employed in their composition found their way into his other work.
Here is the first book to acknowledge Duke Ellington’s contribution to the stage. It offers a survey of every theater piece Ellington is known to have worked on during his lifetime, beginning with the 1925 revue The Chocolate Kiddies and ending with the unfinished “street opera” Queenie Pie. This large body of work includes full-length musicals, African American revues, ballets, and incidental music. The plot of each work is described and the score analyzed according to its dramatic function in the piece. Musical phrases are reproduced in the text, and associations with other well-known Ellington compositions are noted. An appendix provides a chronological listing of Ellington’s shows with song titles conveniently listed under each.
About the Author(s)
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Bibliographic Info: photos, notes, musical notation and lyrics, appendix, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2001
Table of Contents
Introduction: Dramatis Felidae 1
1. Jungle Music 11
2. The Sun-Tanned Revu-sical 28
3. “I’m Afraid I’ll Live” 46
4. “Here’s a Strange Mess” 59
5. “Night Time” 81
6. “What Color Is Virtue?” 105
7. “Skillipoop” 122
8. Fallen Angel 138
9. Water Music 161
10. Gilbert and Sullivan on Hallucinogens 170
11. “Play On!” 183
Appendix: Duke Ellington’s Compositions for the Stage, 1925-1999 191
Book Reviews & Awards
“detailed”—Choice; “the first complete review of all the music Ellington wrote for the stage…an incredible amount of fresh information…a must…will be the standard reference for any further study on the subject…rich wealth of information”—The International Dems Bulletin; “provid[es] detailed and intelligent commentary”—Classic Images; “comprehensive, reliable, and readable…provides extensive new research…essential”—TDES.