Photo by Paul Kolnick

Music Written in Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – Duke Ellington

Les Trois Rois Noirs, or Three Black Kings, a collaboration by Alvin Ailey and Duke Ellington

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Music Written in Honor of: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – Duke Ellington

“Three Black Kings” (Les Trois Rois Noirs) composed by Duke Ellington, circa 1972–1974.

from the Duke Ellington Collection, 1903-1989, Archives Center, National Museum of American History

The title of the third movement is “Martin Luther King Jr.” The other two kings are Balthazar and Solomon. This work is one of several collaborations between Duke Ellington and Alvin Ailey.

Listen to a 1988 recording of the work by the American Composers Orchestra, conducted by Maurice Peress:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhr1ZQ7vPeY

image from Amazon.com

from the 1976 premiere of Three Black Kings, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, photo by Jack Mitchell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read a preview and review of the original 1976 premiere performance:
https://www.nytimes.com/1976/08/13/archives/ailey-a-duke-and-3-kings-ailey-the-duke-and-3-kings.html
https://www.nytimes.com/1976/08/15/archives/the-ballet-black-kings-3segment-work-to-music-of-ellington.html

Read a history of the work: http://outandaboutnycmag.com/three-black-kings-an-ailey-classic/

Read the program notes from various performances:
https://www.alvinailey.org/performances/repertory/three-black-kings
https://www.americancomposers.org/improvise/notes20040428.htm
http://www.kennedy-center.org/artist/composition/5261
http://parkersymphony.org/duke-ellingtons-les-trois-rois-noirs

Martin Luther King Jr. on the mountaintop. From Three Black Kings, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, photo by Paul Kolnick.

Watch a montage of clips of an Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater ballet performance:  https://vimeo.com/16904865

View photos of a 2010 Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater ballet performance:
https://www.broadwayworld.com/bwwdance/article/Photo-Coverage-Alvin-Aileys-THREE-BLACK-KINGS-20101217

View the conductor’s scorehttps://issuu.com/scoresondemand/docs/three_black_kings_27700

For more information on Duke Ellington, read a biographical sketch: https://www.npr.org/2008/11/19/97193567/duke-ellington-the-composer-pt-1

 

Compiled by Janet Harper, jharper@colum.edu, CBMR Reference, Instruction & Community Engagement Librarian, 4/9/2018

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