Can you name pieces of music that celebrate royalty? There’s a lot of it out there, you know. You have the Emperor’s Hymn by Franz Joseph Haydn, the Queen Elizabeth inspired works of Sir Edward Elgar, and countless others, including this jazzy number dedicated to a king. Greetings – I’m Loki Karuna, and on this edition of Noteworthy you and I are gonna visit a musical royal court, as composed by the one and only Duke Ellington.

Duke Ellington was one of those people who didn’t put music in the boxes of genre. He simply believed that there’s only good music and bad music. Among his good music are several orchestral works, including one that he called “Three Black Kings”. This movement of Three Black Kings was dedicated to a man who wasn’t necessarily royal, but certainly someone who bore the name King – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

As the 20th century rolled along, Ellington’s legacy was affixed to this idea of so-called jazz more and more, and while it’s not inaccurate to consider him one of the kings of jazz, it’s important to remember that this legendary musician’s impact on American music transcended genre, culture, and even time, itself. Long live the legacy of Duke Ellington – one of history’s most NoteWorthy composers.

Noteworthy is a production of WDAV classical public radio.