'Encore' – Washington, D.C. - Atlas Obscura

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Washington D.C.'s most famous pianist, composer, and bandleader still tickles the ivories outside Howard Theater. 


The highlight of Ellington Plaza in the Shaw neighborhood is “Encore,” a beautiful sculpture cast in stainless steel and granite that pays tribute to one of Washington, D.C.’s favorite sons, Duke Ellington.

Born Edgward Kennedy Ellington, “Duke” was born and raised in the city. He started taking piano lessons at the age of seven, a natural path for a child of two pianists. By the mid-1920s, Ellington was an established regular with his own orchestra at the famous Cotton Club in New York City.

Ellington’s jazz legacy is unparalleled. His musical collaboration with fellow jazz legend Billy Strayhorn spanned more than three decades. He hit a second peak of popularity following an appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival in the 1950s. He died shortly after his 75th birthday.

“Encore” joins a host of other memorials to “Sir Duke” in Washington D.C. The architect, Zachary Oxman, created something special in this vision of the jazzman. Ellington is seated in an outsized treble clef and hammering out a celestial symphony on a piano that wraps around him and extends into the sky. 

Know Before You Go

The sculpture is located at the intersection of Florida Avenue and T Street, NW.

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September 29, 2021

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