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Ellington in Europe 1939
Duke Ellington’s monthlong tour of Europe between April 1 and May 1, 1939 took him and the orchestra to France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Norway.
They spent most of the time in Sweden, where Ellington gave 22 concerts in 14 cities. He played three times in both Stockholm and Göteborg.
In addition, Ellington and the orchestra performed in Oslo, Norway and in Copenhagen, Denmark, (two concerts in each city).
The tour meant that thousands of Swedes, most of them young, experienced Ellington and his music directly. Many of them also made contact with Ellington and band members to shake hands and get their concert programs autographed.
The website has published two articles about the tour in Sweden with some quite unique photos. One is about Ellington’s concerts in Stockholm on April 16, April 24 and April 29 and the other about the concert in Storvik on April 23, 1939
Ellington’s European tour is well documented in The Duke – Where and When with links to what has been witten about the tour and lists of the music played at the concerts in The Netherlands.
Preparing for the Ellington ’90 conference, John E. Hasse researched the Ellington Archive for material about the 1939 tour and on the last day of the conference he made an hourlong presentation on it.
As a true pedagog, Hasse had prepared an eight pages handout with essential information from his presentation. Roger Boyes of DESUK has very kindly shared his copy of the handout with the website to allow us to share it with our readers.
Ellington in Europe 1939 handout
Stockholm Concert Hall April 1939
Tomorrow, it is 78 years ago since Duke Ellington and his orchestra ended the 1939 tour of Sweden with a concert at the Stockholm Concert Hall. The concert was also part of the celebration of Ellington’s 40th birthday – a celebration that started in the early morning.
During the tour, Ellington made three appearances in Stockholm – on April 16 and 29 at the Stockholm Concert Hall and on April 24 at the Royal Academy of Music.
Someone took a photo during one of the concerts at the Concert Hall – possibly the one on April 16 – and the website is happy to be able to publish it thanks to Jan Bruér.
Another photo giving a full overview of the main hall of the Concert Hall was published in the May 1939 issue of Orkesterjournalen.
The review in Orkesterjournalen of the April 16 concert is available here and in the Ellington Archive/Articles.
Rolf Dahlgren – then a young and aspiring journalist – reviewed the concert for the socialist daily Folkets Dagblad and it was reprinted in the DESS Bulletin in 2012. Also this review is available here and in the Ellington Archive/Articles.
Ritz-Carlton Hotel Boston 27 July 1939
The heritage of radio broadcasts from the late 1930s and early 1940s by Ellington and other black bands is quite small. So whatever there is, it is very valuable and we should be deeply grateful to those who have made at least a part of them available to us.
One example is the one that survives from Ellington’s engagement at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Boston in July-August 1939.
Ellington scholar Ken Steiner has given a very detailed account of this engagement it in the DEMS Bulletin 2003:2 and it has been used for this article.
The surviving broadcast is from July 27, 1939 and it has been issued on both LP and CD (see below).
However, recently it also became available online in mp3 format thanks to the Star-Spangled Radio Hour (SSRH) radio program. It featured it in its July 16, 2016 program together with two broadcasts by Woody Herman from Glen Island Casino in August and September 1939.
The program can be downloaded here: http://www.cruisin1430.com/media/audio-channel/star-spangled-radio-hour-71616. (more…)
Memories of a birthday celebration in Sweden
Duke Ellington’s 40th birthday on 29 April 1939 was celebrated in Stockholm from the early morning into the late night. The highlight was the concert at the Stockholm Concert Hall – the next to last one of Ellington’s long tour of Sweden – but there were also a lot of other things.
It started in the early morning at the hotel.