By Bill Walthall

Program from 1963 Stratford Festival production (courtesy canadianshakespeares.ca)

OK, so doing research on this play, this weird, complicated play, Timon of Athens, I came upon coverage of a Canadian production from the year of my birth, 1963.

With incidental music commissioned and composed by Duke Ellington. Yeah, that Duke Ellington.

Program from 1963 Stratford Festival production (courtesy canadianshakespeares.ca)

In that year, Michael Langham, the artistic director of the Stratford Festival in Canada, selected Timon of Athens for production. His decision to set the play in the late 1920s allowed him to commission new songs from a man who was around during the era, Duke Ellington. Ellington was already a star at the Cotton Club by the time the historical period Langham was depicting rolled around.

still from Stratford 1963 (courtesy canadianshakespeares.ca)
still from Stratford 1963 (courtesy canadianshakespeares.ca)

In more recent years, he had become more a jazz composer and performer than big band leader, and he had previously contributed music to the Stratford Festival. So Langham’s Timon was a nice piece of synchronicity.

Ellington wrote 20 pieces that Langham then deployed throughout the production.

The music was reused in a 1991 revival…

program notes from 1991 revival (courtesy canadianshakespeares.ca)
program notes from 1991 revival (courtesy canadianshakespeares.ca)

The songs are wonderful, and the webpage concerning the production is a great read…

The post Duke Timon: it don’t mean a thing… appeared first on The Bill / Shakespeare Project.

Read more here:: http://thebillshakespeareproject.com/2016/11/duke-timon-dont-mean-thing/

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