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Duke Ellington and Sweden

Ellington visited Sweden on numerous occasions throughout his career. His orchestra’s first major exposure to Sweden took place in 1939. The tour reportedly offered many Swedes their first in-person exposure to American jazz. Among his many musical encounters, Ellington notably met the then 15-year-old Alice Babs, a singer who became quite important to his later career. By the end of this tour, Ellington had notably written “Serenade to Sweden”, which was broadcast nationally in a radio concert.

The orchestra’s next extended tour of Sweden came in 1963, by which point the Ellington orchestra also included Swedish trumpeter Rolf Ericson. From this point onward, Ellington’s career involved numerous visits to Sweden and interactions with Swedish musicians. Such events included, most notably, his Second and Third Sacred Concerts (1967 and 1973, respectively), the first of which was also performed in Stockholm, and both of which included Babs in a major soloist role.

With this history in mind, this project will explore ideas of cross-cultural exchange in the interactions of Ellington’s orchestra and Swedish musicians, as well as in Swedish audiences’ reception of Ellington. In the latter area, I will trace the reception of Ellington through the extensive coverage in regional newspapers as well as in Swedish music magazines such as Orkester Journalen and Estrad.

Project leader: Olle Edström
Project duration: 2011–2018
Funding: The Faculty of Arts and grants from academic foundations

Contact Information

Olle Edström

PO Box 200, 405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden

Visiting Address:
Vera Sandbergs Allé 8, room 3158A

+46-(0)31-786 4191

Page Manager: Felicia Bigot Klinteberg|Last update: 6/9/2016

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