Benny Goodman

Goodman, Benny (Benjamin David Goodman), 1909–86, American clarinetist, composer, and band leader, b. Chicago. Goodman studied clarinet at Hull House. In Chicago he had the opportunity to hear (and eventually to play beside) some of the outstanding jazz musicians of the era. He played the clarinet for many years in Chicago and later in California. In 1928 he went to New York City, where in 1934 he organized his own orchestra. In 1935 he formed the Benny Goodman trio with Gene Krupa and Teddy Wilson; it became a quartet in 1936 when Lionel Hampton joined it. Performing for radio, motion pictures, and records, Goodman's orchestra became nationally famous. After 1939 he became known as the King of Swing. In the 1950s Goodman's many tours abroad gained him international esteem. He also achieved success playing classical music for clarinet, particularly with the Budapest String Quartet. He commissioned Béla Bartók to compose Contrasts, for violin, clarinet, and piano, in 1938. Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, and Morton Gould wrote music for him. Goodman wrote The Kingdom of Swing (1939) with Irving Kolodin.

See bio-discographies by D. R. Connor (1958 and 1969); study by J. L. Collier.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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