Your assignment is to prepare and submit a paper on the life of duke ellington. Duke’s first love was baseball. While his parents encouraged his athletic abilities, they also stimulated his musical side, knowing that the talent was there, but just needed to be mined. At the ripe of age seven, Duke began receiving piano lessons from Marietta Clinkscales. Daisy wanted Duke to be a well-rounded young gentleman, so she also made sure that, alongside his piano lessons, he would be taught manners and elegance. As a result of his refined behavior, grace, and the classy way that he dressed, Duke’s friends gave him the affectionate nickname Duke with the belief that a young boy so noble deserved a title.
Growing up, Duke dedicated a balanced amount of time to his piano lessons and to baseball. When he entered high school, Duke got his first job selling peanuts at baseball games. Around the same time, his personal love for music began to develop into what would become one of the greatest legacies in American music history. At the age of fifteen, while working another job as a soda jerk, Duke penned his first composition, “Soda Fountain Rag.” Duke had yet to learn to read and write music, so this composition was created entirely by ear. “I would play the ‘Soda Fountain Rag’ as a one-step, two-step, waltz, tango, and foxtrot. Listeners never knew it was the same piece. I was established as having my own repertoire” (Ellington 112). Even at a young age, Duke knew how to manipulate his musical talent, a characteristic that would only become more intense as he learned to harness this talent.
Surprisingly, Duke found that he enjoyed writing music more than playing the piano. He would often skip his piano lessons to sneak into a poolroom to listen to other pianists. During those many journeys, though, Duke finally discovered the love of piano that his mother had tried to instill in him.