Music, Text, Image: Duke Ellington’s Paris Blues and Such Sweet Thunder (the Shakespearean Suite)
This talk will offer a slide-and-music overview of two projects by the composer Duke Ellington: Such Sweet Thunder (his Shakespearean suite, 1957) and Paris Blues (his movie soundtrack, 1960). In both cases Ellington translated complex visual and literary material into his own musical idiom. Despite what Ellington considered the highly promising beginnings of Paris Blues (in early scripts), ultimately he found himself seriously at odds with that movie, and began to fight against it with his music. What was it about Paris Blues that Ellington rejected? What was his musical rejoinder? And what was Ellington’s sense of Shakespeare? How did he revise Shakespeare, too, for his own purposes?
For the use, in his talk, of rare footage from the Institut National de l’Audiovisuel (affiliate of the BnF), Mr. O’Meally is most grateful.
Image: Romare Bearden Homage to Louie and Duke, circa 1975 © Romare Bearden Foundation/VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY