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Composed: 1934

Orchestration: harp, celesta, and strings

First Los Angeles Philharmonic performance: Sound/Stage, November 6, 2020, Gustavo Dudamel conducting

About this Piece

An often written-about truism for many songwriters is that some songs take years of work, and some are created in a flash of inspiration—and it is often the flashes that are the most enduring. Ellington famously wrote “(In My) Solitude” in 20 minutes, leaning against a glass enclosure as he waited for another band to finish their recording session. Working both late and long hours, Ellington had trained himself to compose in any spare moment he could find, be it on the train or backstage before his next set. Though the 1934 release of the song was labeled a foxtrot, there is unmistakable melancholy in the lyrics (added by Eddie DeLange and Irving Mills) and in its harmony, rather untypical for a lively dance. The jazz standard has been recorded by the likes of Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong, and the piece was later arranged for string orchestra by American composer Morton Gould. —Ricky O’Bannon

In my solitude you haunt me
With reveries of days gone by
In my solitude you taunt me
With memories that never die

I sit in my chair
Filled with despair
Nobody could be so sad
With gloom ev’rywhere
I sit and I stare
I know that I’ll soon go mad

In my solitude
I’m praying
Dear Lord above
Send back my love