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Vernon Duke

p, 1903-1969 US, Parafjanava
Composer / Songwriter of Classical, Jazz and Soundtrack
A.k.a. Vladimir Dukelsky

Russian-American composer and songwriter. Born: 10 October 1903 in Parafjanawa, Russian Empire (now Belarus). Died: 16 January 1969 in Santa Monica, California, USA (aged 65). Born Vladimir Dukelsky, he grew up in Kiev and showed remarkable musical talent at an early age; he was admitted to the Kiev Conservatory when he was only eleven years old. At the Conservatory, he studied with the composer Reinhold Glière, and one of his contemporaries there was the young Vladimir Horowitz. Duke was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970. His family fled Russia in 1919 at the outbreak of the Russian Revolution and spent eighteen months in Constantinople. In 1921, the Dukelsky family obtained United States visas and emigrated to New York. Vladimir became friends with George Gershwin, who suggested that he Americanize his name to Vernon Duke. He used his pen name for popular music and used his given name when writing classical music or Russian poetry (until 1955, when he dropped the name Dukelsky). He moved to Paris in 1924 and wrote classical music (as Dukelsky) for Ballet Russes and also composed his First Symphony (1928). He became close friends with composer Sergei Prokofiev as well as Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau. He also traveled to London and contributed to musical comedies (as Vernon Duke). In 1929, he returned to New York and began writing for Broadway, partnering with E.Y. Harburg to write his first pop hit "April in Paris." Duke's songs "April In Paris" (1932), "Autumn In New York" (1934), "I Like The Likes Of You" (1934), "Water Under the Bridge" (1934), and "I Can't Get Started" (1936), were hits of the 1930s. Dukelsky became a US citizen in 1936 (some sources say 1939) and took Vernon Duke as his legal name. During World War II, he served in the US Coast Guard, where he wrote the score for a Coast Guard revue, "Tars And Spars", starring the young and then-unknown Sid Caesar. After the war, his career lulled, and he lived in France, eventually settling in California in 1948. By 1955, he dropped the name Dukelsky, and from then on both his classical and popular compositions were credited to Vernon Duke. In that same year, he published an autobiography, "Passport To Paris", and in 1957 he married singer Kay McCracken. Vernon Duke died during an operation for lung cancer in Santa Monica, California on 16 January 1969.

  • Classical
  • Jazz
  • Soundtrack
  • Spoken Word
  • Pop
Popular Tracks   
Can't Get Started on Songs from My 3rd Life by piKziL
Sweet Bye and Bye on Sweet Bye and Bye by Various Artists
Prelude on Misia by Various Artists
Factory Ballet on Sweet Bye and Bye by Various Artists
Sweet Bye and Bye (Reprise) on Sweet Bye and Bye by Various Artists

Track list and 30sec audio provided by


Title Artist Year Type
ZendaVernon Duke - Starring Alfred Drake, Anne Rogers, Chita Rivera2003Album
Trio America Vol. IVThe Mirecourt Trio, Otto Luening, Duke Ellington, Thomas Benjamin, Vernon Duke & Lloyd Rodgers1996Album
Nashville New York - A RevueVernon Duke, Kurt Weill, Robert Cushman, Christopher Benjamin1980Album
Sonata in D / Etude for Violin and Bassoon / Souvenir de Venise / Parisian SuiteVernon Duke1961Album
String Quartet/Three Caprices/Variations On An Old Russian Chant/Surrealist SuiteVernon Duke1959Album
André Previn Plays Songs By Vernon DukeAndré Previn Plays Songs By Vernon Duke1958Album
Time RememberedVernon Duke1958Album
This Is My BelovedAlfred Ryder, Vernon Duke, Lehman Engel, Walter Benton1956Album
This Is My BelovedJohn Dall, Vernon Duke, Lehman Engel1949Album
I Can't Get Started, Part. 2Vernon DukeSingle
External Links
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