Duke Ellington's Music for the Theatre (Paperback)
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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.