Duke Ellington's Sacred Music

Course details

From £70.00

Sat 12 Oct 2019
09.45 - 5.00

Duke Ellington's Sacred Music


In a career spanning some sixty years Duke Ellington became one of America’s most widely respected musicians. As a pianist, composer and particularly as a band leader he became one of the most influential jazz musicians of his time, although he preferred to call his music “American music” rather than jazz. Even after his death in 1974 his influence remained strong, as evidenced by the posthumous award of a Pulitzer Prize in 1999.

Throughout his career there is a strong moral and religious thread discernible in much of his music. In this day school Jeremy Price, Head of Jazz at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, explores this aspect of Duke Ellington’s life and music, focusing on the Sacred Concerts composed in his later years.

Programme details

9.45am            Registration

10.00am          Moral messages in earlier Ellington

Ellington communicates moral messages right from the start, particularly in the Deep South Suite and Black Brown and Beige. These works can be examined as precursors to the eventual composition of the first Sacred Concert.

11.15am            Coffee/tea

11.45am            The First Sacred Concert

Circumstances of its composition and first performance

1.00pm            Lunch

2.00pm            Subsequent revisions and additions

Sacred Concerts 2 and 3 and other renditions under Ellington.

3.15pm            Tea/coffee

3.45pm            Contemporary performances

Ellington’s Sacred Music has become firmly established in the concert repertoire. This session examines what the Sacred Concerts mean to us in the 21st century by looking at recent performances and interpretations.

5.00pm           Course disperses



Recommended reading

T. Teachout: Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington (Alfred Publishing)

E. Green: The Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington (CUP)


Accommodation in Rewley House - all bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.  Please contact our Residential Centre on +44 (0) 1865 270362 or email res-ctr@conted.ox.ac.uk for details of availability and discounted prices.


Tuition only: £70.00
Baguette Lunch : £5.00


If you are in receipt of a state benefit you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

If you do not qualify for the concessionary fee but are experiencing financial hardship, you may still be eligible for financial assistance.

Concessionary fees for short courses



Jeremy Price


has been Head of Jazz at Birmingham Conservatoire since the Jazz Department was established in 1999 and wrote the Conservatoire's first ever BMus (Hons) Jazz programme. He is also the author of the Associated Board's Jazz Ensemble series Jazz Works and has also written material for International Music Press.

Jonathan Darnborough

Director of Studies

Jonathan Darnborough is Director of Studies in Music and Departmental Lecturer in Music at Oxford University Department for Continuing Education.  He is a composer and pianist and has worked in continuing education throughout his career.

Jonathan studied piano and composition at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and the Royal Northern College of Music.  He was a prizewinner in the 1992 Franco-Italian Music Competition in Paris and has performed in the USA, France, Holland, Italy and Indonesia.  The Boston Globe has described him as having “a compositional voice that was unmistakably his own”.  He is currently working on an opera based on Euripides’s Hecuba and writing an online course on musical analysis for Oxford.

He is the author of an online course, Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro.