The following is a compilation of important and interesting dates in the life of Billy Strayhorn:
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 first pianist with the Senior Orchestra, Strayhorn performs Edward Greig's Piano Concerto, opus 16, among other pieces. During this period, he begins composing his first works combining jazz and classical elements.
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.
1933-1936 - Working on the piece sporadically over a period of several years, Strayhorn composes "Lush Life."
1937-1938 - Strayhorn performs around the Pittsburgh area with his own jazz combo, The Madhatters.
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 offer 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 first 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, 1945; December 1948 - Strayhorn wins Down Beat poll as 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.
May 8, 1956 - National television broadcasts of Ellington Strayhorn theatrical collaboration, "A Drum is a Woman," an allegorical history of jazz told in music and dance.
Mid-late 1950's - Strayhorn records extensively with Johnny Hodges, serving as musical director, arranger and pianist.
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.
April 14, 1959 - Billy Strayhorn Septet LP recorded.
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 51.