November 29, 1915 – William Thomas Strayhorn born in Miami Valley Hospital, Dayton, Ohio to James Strayhorn and the former Lillian Craig.
1920 – After periods living in various locations including Montclair, New Jersey, the Strayhorns settle in greater Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
1926 – Billy Strayhorn begins private lessons.
1927 In seventh grade, Strayhorn starts his music study at Westinghouse High School under Carl McVicker and other teachers.
1929–1933 While at Westinghouse, Strayhorn engages in various musical activities, including participation in the Orchestra Club. As rst pianist with the Senior Orchestra, Strayhorn performs Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto, opus 16, among other pieces. During this period, he begins composing his first works combining jazz and classical elements.
1933–1936 Working on the piece sporadically over a period of several years, Strayhorn composes “Lush Life.”
November 6, 1935 Premiere of Fantastic Rhythm, a musical revue with book, music, and lyrics by Billy Strayhorn, performed at Westinghouse High School.
September 1936 Strayhorn attends the Pittsburgh Musical Institute, a private music conservatory.
1937–1938 Strayhorn performs around the Pittsburgh area with his own jazz combo, The Mad Hatters.
December 2, 1938 Billy Strayhorn meets Duke Ellington at the Stanley Theater, where Ellington was performing with his orchestra.
January 23, 1939 Strayhorn visits Ellington at the Adams Theater in Newark, New Jersey, and accepts Ellington’s o er to serve as Ellington’s collaborator. Shortly after this, Strayhorn moves from Pittsburgh into Ellington’s home at 409 Edgecombe Avenue in Harlem’s Sugar Hill District.
March 21, 1939 The Duke Ellington Orchestra records its rst Strayhorn composition, “Something to Live For.”
1941 During a radio ban on music composed by members of the ASCAP, including Duke Ellington, Strayhorn emerges through compositions including “Take the ‘A’ Train,” “Johnny Come Lately,” “Chelsea Bridge,” and “After All.”
December, 1946 Strayhorn wins DownBeat readers poll for arranger.
March 29, 1949 First recording of “Lush Life” by Nat King Cole.
1950 Strayhorn joins the Copasetics, a fraternal organization of show-business insiders based in Harlem. Soon he is elected president and leads the group in social and charitable activities.
November, 1950 Ellington-Strayhorn piano duet recorded, released on LP billed as the Billy Strayhorn Trio.
April 28, 1957 Debut of Ellington-Strayhorn collaboration Such Sweet Thunder, an instrumental suite inspired by the works of Shakespeare, at New York’s Town Hall.
June, 1960 Ellington-Strayhorn adaptation of The Nutcracker Suite recorded.
January, 1961 Strayhorn solo LP, The Peaceful Side, recorded in Paris for release by United Artists Records.
December, 1961 Billy Strayhorn and the Orchestra LP recorded for release on the Verve label.
December 19–21, 1966 Ellington-Strayhorn collaboration The Far East Suite recorded.
May 31, 1967 Billy Strayhorn dies of cancer of the esophagus at age fifty-one.