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The Ellington Century [Hardcover]

David Schiff

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Book Description

Feb. 21 2012
Breaking down walls between genres that are usually discussed separately—classical, jazz, and popular—this highly engaging book offers a compelling new integrated view of twentieth-century music. Placing Duke Ellington (1899–1974) at the center of the story, David Schiff explores music written during the composer’s lifetime in terms of broad ideas such as rhythm, melody, and harmony. He shows how composers and performers across genres shared the common pursuit of representing the rapidly changing conditions of modern life. The Ellington Century demonstrates how Duke Ellington’s music is as vital to musical modernism as anything by Stravinsky, more influential than anything by Schoenberg, and has had a lasting impact on jazz and pop that reaches from Gershwin to contemporary R&B.

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Review

“’The Ellington Century’ redefines the Duke's place in American music. . . . It's a must-read for music students and enthusiasts.”
(David Stabler The Oregonian 2012-03-24)

“Schiff makes you yearn to be a part of the ongoing flow of all music, not just jazz, or classical, or pop, or anything else. And that is one of the highest compliments I can pay the book.”
(John Scott G Music Industry Newswire 2012-02-23)

“The most stimulating contribution to the Ellington literature I have encountered since Eddie Lambert’s Listener’s Guide.”
(Roger Boyes Dems Bulletin 2012-01-16)

“This book will be a must read for Ellingtonians and any musician interested in jazz-classical theory.”
(Lewis J Whittington All About Jazz 2012-04-22)

“An important milestone in Ellington scholarship, a one-of-a-kind substantive, in-depth study that opens possibilities for better understanding and appreciation of Duke Ellington the composer.”
(Theodore (Ted) Hudson Ellingtonia 2012-05-01)

“Schiff's ode to Ellington is a joy.”
(Publishers Weekly 2012-05-28)

“An invaluable contribution to music history . . . [it] opens the door to a new understanding of modernism, one that resists traditional narratives of stratification and embraces history in all its messy complexity.”
(Caroline Waight Make Magazine 2012-05-07)

“Schiff is ostensibly addressing classical listeners, but jazz folks will find the book equally fascinating, looking over the fence from the other side, at the harmonic refinements that would enrich jazz. . . . The Ellington Century’s expansiveness and shifting frames of reference are typically Ellingtonian. This lively kaleidoscopic narrative evokes Ellington’s inclusive spirit.”
(Kevin Whitehead Downbeat 2012-08-01)

From the Inside Flap

The Ellington Century is a wonderful journey through the world of music and art. If you are already an aficionado of Ellington's music, you will enjoy the author's informative and detailed analysis of the composer's work and musical influences. If you are less familiar, this book puts Ellington's music in perspective with the great ‘classical’ composers of the twentieth century. David Schiff's remarkable insight into the historical and musical parallels between these composers is a delight to read and his references are vast, from Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire and Stravinsky’s Agon to television’s Sesame Street. Schiff writes with a sense of humor and an enthusiasm for Ellington's music that comes out on every page.”—George Manahan, Music Director, American Composers Orchestra

“David Schiff points us forward, observing that ‘Ellington’s music asks us to see with our ears and hear with our eyes.’ Writing as a composer and scholar, he has a gift for making complex ideas strikingly clear. His insights move across a huge terrain of twentieth-century culture, as he builds bridges in his musical and cultural analysis where many have not seen a connection. Yet each musical work, each artist, is given his or her equal due. In this sense, he has met the spiritual and cultural challenge of Ellington’s life work.”—Marty Ehrlich, Composer/Instrumentalist, Associate Professor of Improvisation and Contemporary Music, Hampshire College


Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very readable and interesting book Feb. 21 2012
By J. Rosenthal - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Ellington Century by David Schiff is very readable and covered an enormous amount of ground centering on jazz and Duke Ellington and their importance to music worldwide during the 20th century. Schiff covers many innovative composers and how they responded to prejudice (not just racism although certainly that) war, and technological change (among other things, and there's sex too!) experienced during the period. Schiff "meshes" all the composers and the music which makes the book fun to read and enables you to grasp his point. I had never thought in this way before about classical and jazz music, so it made for a very different and interesting book.
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for jazz scholars and players alike. May 15 2013
By Tony Steve - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book by Dr. Schiff.
If you want deeper insight to Ellington, his music and the world around him this is the book to begin your journey.
4.0 out of 5 stars A Giant of our Culture Feb. 22 2013
By Joe McCray - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
When you consider the role of racial bigotry in our culture as its overarching feature, the accomplishments of Duke Ellington are even more amazing than the unparalled beauty of his work. So much of what Ellington and his orchestera did over the years influences our lives. Probably more importantly it imparts joy across the racial divide - 'nobody doesn't love ellington'. Schiff's work tries to explain all that and, although it falls short of that goal, goes well down the road toward it.

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