The estate of Billy Strayhorn bequeathed his Steinway baby grand piano to Saint Peter’s Church at his death in 1967. It has been a beloved part of the Church’s instrument collection ever since, recently undergoing a much-needed and highly-successful renovation.
The piano is used regularly in the Living Room of Saint Peter’s Church and at the celebrated Jazz on the Plaza series. Thanks to this important gift, Strayhorn’s legacy and inspiration continues in a particularly vibrant way at Saint Peter’s Church. The jazz ministry at Saint Peter’s Church honored Strayhorn for its 2009 Prez Fest.
Billy Strayhorn (1915–1967), composer, arranger and pianist, was born in Dayton, Ohio, and raised in Hillsborough, North Carolina and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he received his musical training. He first met Duke Ellington in 1938 and worked in close collaboration with him for three decades.
Some of the world’s great compositions were written by Billy Strayhorn: Take the A Train, Lush Life, Chelsea Bridge, Something to Live For, Day Dream, Rain Check, Passion Flower, Midriff and Johnny Come Lately. In collaboration with Duke Ellington, he produced many concert works including: Perfume Suite, Such Sweet Thunder and A Drum is a Woman.
“Billy Strayhorn… the biggest human being who ever lived, a man with the greatest courage, the most majestic stature, a highly skilled musician whose impeccable taste commanded the respect of all musicians and the admiration of all listeners.” —Duke Ellington