( 1899-1974 )
One of the foremost composers of the Jazz Era, Duke Ellington wrote nearly 2,000 compositions and gave more than 20,000 performances worldwide, with such hits as Caravan and Take the 'A' Train. The Duke was a fine although often underrated pianist, but his real instrument was his orchestra. Born in Washington, D.C., he received many awards, including the President's Gold Medal, the French Legion of Honor, and, posthumously, the Pulitzer Prize. His recordings remain among the most popular of the Big Band Era.