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COLLECTION Identifier: RECCO 34000-35036, 10-35037-35330, C 35331-35469

Duke Ellington recordings collection


Recordings of Duke Ellington, American pianist, band leader, and composer, collected by Joseph Jeffers Dodge, jazz aficionado, artist, museum director, and Harvard University Class of 1940.


  • Creation: 1927-1996


Access to the collection is unrestricted.


1 collection (33 linear feet (sound recordings) and 1 box (accompanying materials))

The collection consists of 1225 single and 52 boxed sets of long-playing records, 313 10-inch 78-rpm discs, 13 10-inch 78-rpm sets, 2 12-inch long-playing sets, 155 audio cassettes, 287 compact discs, 17 videocassettes. In addition there are supporting materials including books, scrapbooks, and newspaper/magazine articles, all devoted to Ellington, his contemporaries, and other jazz-related subjects. A few representative examples of the supporting materials are scanned and available for viewing.

Biographical and Historical Note

"Duke" (Edward Kennedy) Ellington, composer, arranger, pianist, and band leader is considered one of America's master musicians; his place in jazz history remains unparalleled. Ellington remained a creative and relevant artist throughout an extraordinary fifty-year career. As a songwriter, he was as prolific as Gershwin and Cole Porter; he assimilated all styles and trends in jazz, adding elements of each to his own compositions. His arrangements were complex and sophisticated, and his varied use of blues structures innovative and seemingly limitless. He inspired his soloists to new heights of imagination and creativity, and his discography is one of the most comprehensive of all twentieth-century composers, his career among the most thoroughly documented.

Born in Washington, D.C. on April 29, 1899, Ellington's earliest musical influences were the ragtime pianists. He made his professional debut at age 17 and his earliest recordings with Elmer Snowden's band, the Washingtonians, in 1927. At Harlem's Cotton Club (1927-31), he began to assume a leading position in the jazz world, earning international fame with the success of his compositions Mood Indigo and Creole Rhapsody. During this formative period he developed a variety of signature styles: "mood" or "blue" pieces, jungle-style production numbers, popular songs, and purely instrumental jazz compositions. From 1933-42, his 14-man band toured extensively throughout the United States, with highly successful visits to Europe in 1933 and 1939. Beginning in 1943, and continuing through 1952, Ellington produced a legendary series of annual concerts in Carnegie Hall with the touchstone work, Black, Brown, and Beige, the first in a series of multi-movement jazz suites, later to include Liberian Suite, Harlem, and Such Sweet Thunder. Beginning in 1950, such large-scale suites were a feature of Ellington's more frequent foreign tours, including a highly successful visit to the Soviet Union in 1971. He composed his first full-length feature film score in 1959, for Otto Preminger'sAnatomy of a Murder. In the 1960's he recorded with prominent jazz musicians of the younger generation, including Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, and Max Roach. He devoted the final decade of his career largely to the composition of liturgical music, beginning with the monumental In the Beginning God, for orchestra, chorus, soloistss, and dancer. This was followed by "Second" and "Third" Sacred Concerts in 1968 and 1973. Ellington died in New York on May 24, 1974.

Joseph Jeffers Dodge was a well-recognized artist, collector, and museum director, as well as life-long jazz aficionado and Ellington enthusiast. Born in Detroit in 1917, Joseph Jeffers "Jerry" Dodge graduated from Harvard University in 1940; two of his art works are currently held at Harvard's Fogg Art Museum. From 1962 he served as director of the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens in Jacksonville, Florida; he left the museum in 1972 to devote himself to painting full time. A close friend and Harvard colleague of Alan Jay Lerner, Dodge served as the inspiration for the lead character, also an artist named Jerry, played by Gene Kelly in Lerner's Oscar-winning screenplay for the film, An American in Paris.Dodge's passion for jazz led to his becoming an avid collector of Duke Ellington's music; he amassed a comprehensive collection of virtually all of Ellington's commercial recordings and an extensive documentation of radio broadcasts as well. Dodge died in Jacksonville, Florida in 1997.

System of Arrangement

The recordings in the collection are arranged in 7 series according to their format. Within each series they are then arranged in alphabetical order by recording label and then in numerical order by recording number.

  1. I. 12-inch Long Play Records (LP's)
  2. II. Non-Commercial Long Play Records
  3. III. 12-inch Records
  4. IV. 10-inch Records (78 RPM)
  5. V. Audio Cassettes
  6. VI. Non-Commercial Audio Cassettes
  7. VII. Non-Commercial Open-Ended Reels

Physical Location

Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was acquired in March 1998 from the estate of Joseph Jeffers Dodge.

Processed by:

Robert Dennis, Sarah Adams, Douglas Freundlich, Carolann Buff

Dodge, Joseph Jeffers, collector. Duke Ellington recordings collection: Guide.
Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, Harvard College Library
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library Repository

The Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library is the primary repository of musical materials at Harvard. The Music Library’s collecting mission is to serve music teaching and research programs in the Music Department and throughout the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. In addition, it supports the musical needs of the broader Harvard community as well as an international scholarly constituency. We collect books, musical scores, serial titles, sound recordings and video formats, microforms, and rare and archival materials that support research in a wide variety of musical disciplines including historical musicology, music theory, ethnomusicology, composition, and historically informed performance practice, as well as interdisciplinary areas related to music. The special collections include archival collections from the 19th, 20th and 21st century.

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