A New Beginning
A Note From The President, DAVID HAJDU
The Early YearsThe Great EllingtoniansEllington The Songwriter
Duke Ellington dreaded facing his own mortality.
Like most of us, surely, though with a lot more cool, since he was Duke Ellington, after all.

Duke Ellington loved love - so much so that he proclaimed in the Sacred Concerts (which he considered his most important work) that love is interchangable with his personal conception of God. When the maestro said he loved you madly, the phrase was more than another charming Ellington bon mot; the evocation of love meant something significant to him, and the fact that he seemed to tell countless people everywhere that he loved them madly every day seems to enrich the sentiment, rather than diminish it. I can think of only one thing that Ellington ever appeared to hate: endings. He didn't like to finish his songs and frequently left the finale blank on a piece of sheet music. The last movement of one of his suites inevitably proved the most daunting to complete. To his final days, he dreaded facing his own mortality - like most of us, surely, though with a lot more cool, since he was Duke Ellington, after all.

Nineteen ninety-nine marks the occasion of several endings: the end of the millenium as it's popularly measured (despite the fact that the 21st century really begins in 2001), the end of a century since Ellington was born, and the end of the first four decades of our organization, the New York Chapter of the Duke Ellington Society. They're all causes for celebration, of course (Ellington's anniversary being infinitely more important than our own). Yet in many of my conversations with longtime members of the society lately, I've been sensing a touch of Duke's anxiety, an unspoken feeling that something precious might be slipping away. Is it because we've suffered the loss of too many TDES veterans recently? Is it a kind of end-of-the-era melancholy? Or are we just too much like Ellington? Whatever the case, I think it might serve us well to remember Duke's perfect solution to his dread of finality: a fresh project, another beginning. With the Ellington Centennial and the 40th anniversary of TDES upon us, 1999 promises to be the best time yet to be an Ellingtonian.

Love You Madly; TDES, INC.