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Duke Ellington

(1899-1974), Pianist and composer

Edward Kennedy ('Duke') Ellington

Sitter in 5 portraits
Born in Washington, D.C., Ellington predominantly lived in New York City where he regularly performed with his big band jazz orchestra at the Cotton Club in Harlem. These performances became so popular that audiences travelled to Harlem just to hear the band. During the 1930s, Ellington's orchestra toured across Europe to great success. Ellington is responsible for writing over a thousand compositions encompassing both short and extended pieces, during a musical career spanning over five decades. He is considered to have radically changed the face of jazz music, developing it into an art form and making it accessible to wider audiences. In 1999, he was awarded a special posthumous Pulitzer Prize for music.

Watch a film clip on the sitter from the BBC Archive in the Media section below

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Jack Hylton meeting Duke Ellington and his band at Waterloo Station, by James Jarché, for  Daily Herald - NPG x88287

Jack Hylton meeting Duke Ellington and his band at Waterloo Station

by James Jarché, for Daily Herald
modern bromide print from original negative, 9 June 1933
NPG x88287

Duke Ellington and his Orchestra, by Harry Diamond - NPG x210091

Duke Ellington and his Orchestra

by Harry Diamond
gelatin silver print, November 1973
NPG x210091

Duke Ellington, by Harry Diamond - NPG x210093

Duke Ellington

by Harry Diamond
gelatin silver print, November 1973
NPG x210093

Duke Ellington; Harold Ashby, by Harry Diamond - NPG x210094

Duke Ellington; Harold Ashby

by Harry Diamond
gelatin silver print, November 1973
NPG x210094

Duke Ellington and unknown sitters, by Harry Diamond - NPG x210095

Duke Ellington and unknown sitters

by Harry Diamond
gelatin silver print, 24 October 1973
NPG x210095

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Media

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