duke ellington stratford 1956

Did You Know… Duke Ellington

Did you know that American band leader, composer and pianist Duke Ellington (1899-1974) performed, and was recorded, in Stratford in July 1956 as part of Stratford Festival’s original music programme? Duke Ellington Live From the 1956 Stratford Festival is available for check out at the Stratford Library. Ellington went on to compose and record music inspired by Shakespeare’s plays.
Commissioned by the Festival to compose a Shakspearian suite, Ellington, and long-time collaborator Billy Strayhorn, produced the 1957 album Such Sweet Thunder, twelve songs inspired by Shakespeare’s characters. The album’s title is taken from a line by Puck in a Midsummer Night’s Dream, “I never heard so musical a discord, such sweet thunder.”