Billy Strayhorn Master Editions Collection

Institution: University of Chicago Library - Special Collections Research Center
1100 E. 57th Street
Chicago, IL 60637-1504
Phone: 773-702-8705
Fax: 773-702-3728
Date: 1933-1966
Extent: 10.5 Linear Feet
Finding Aid

Biographical/Historical Note:
William "Billy" Strayhorn was born in Dayton, Ohio on November 29, 1915. He spent part of his childhood in Hillsborough, North Carolina. His family eventually moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he studied classical music at the Pittsburgh Musical Institution. At the age of 23, he submitted a musical composition titled "Something to Live For" to Duke Ellington, who subsequently recorded it with Strayhorn as the pianist. Strayhorn worked as the pianist in Mercer Ellington's orchestra for a short time, but left to join Ellington's band as associate arranger and second pianist. He stayed with Ellington for nearly thirty years and they collaborated on more than 200 items, including "Take the 'A' Train," "Satin Doll," and the theme from Anatomy of a Murder. Strayhorn also contributed to other recordings by Cootie Williams, Bigard, Johnny Hodges, the Ellingtonians, the Coronets, Louie Bellson, Ben Webster, and Clark Terry. He composed the song "King Fought for the Battle of 'Bam" for Martin Luther King, Jr., and was also an influence of Lena Horne. In 1946, Strayhorn received the Esquire Silver Award for outstanding arranger. Invited by the Duke Ellington Jazz Society, in 1965 he presented a concert, using only his own work, at New York's New School of Social Research. Billy Strayhorn died in New York on May 31, 1967.

Scope and Content Note:
The Billy Strayhorn Master Editions Collection contains finale scores and parts generated by music editing software, derived directly from his handwritten manuscripts. Some of the scores were never performed during Strayhorn's lifetime. There are also reprints of a signed photograph of Strayhorn.

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