Walter van de Leur

Dr Walter van de Leur is the first Professor of Jazz and Improvised Music in the Netherlands at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) on behalf of the Conservatorium van Amsterdam (CvA), where he is Associate Lector (Senior Researcher). He co-founded the school’s master’s research programme and teaches various jazz historiography courses. He is an executive team member of the Academy of Musicology and Musicianship Amsterdam (AMMA).

Van de Leur is an internationally recognized expert on the music of Duke Ellington and his collaborator Billy Strayhorn. He is the author of Something to Live For: The Music of Billy Strayhorn (Oxford UP; winner of the 2003 Irving Lowens Book Award for Distinguished Scholarship in American Music). Furthermore, he contributed works on Strayhorn and Ellington to The Duke Ellington Studies Anthology (Cambridge UP), Musicians and Their Audiences (Ashgate), Strayhorn: An Illustrated Life (Agate, 2015), The Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington, The Grove Dictionary of American Music (Oxford UP), The International Dictionary of Black Composers (U. of Chicago Press), and the Musical Quarterly.

Van de Leur’s work furthermore focuses on jazz reception history and jazz historiography. In his work he looks at how different stakeholders (musicians, audiences, critics and policy makers) talk about jazz, implicitly representing ideas about the genre's meaning. Those ideas are reflected in cultural politics, education, publications, etc. His recent book Jazz and Death, as well as the anticipated Oxford History of Jazz in Europe are reception studies

As of January 2024, Van de Leur is co-editor-in-chief for Jazz Perspectives (Taylor and Francis).

He is deeply involved with interdisciplinary and practice-based research. He was the researcher for six ground-breaking recording projects that evolved around newly discovered jazz works of Strayhorn, Mary Lou Williams, Gil Evans, and others (released by Challenge Records).

Van de Leur has led the Dutch work packages for two European-funded research projects: Rhythm Changes: Jazz and National Identity and CHIME (Cultural Heritage and Improvised Music in European Festivals). He has directed academic jazz conferences for Rhythm Changes (the largest jazz conference in the field), the CHIME Music, Festivals, Heritage Conference in Siena (Italy), and co-led the 22nd International Duke Ellington Conference in Amsterdam.


Forthcoming [2024–30] The [Oxford] History of Jazz in Europe. Founding editor. Five-Volume Edited Set: Vol. 1, Arrival and Early Reception, 1918–40; Vol. 2, The Second World War, 1940–45; Vol. 3, Conflicting Ideologies and Agendas, 1945–65; Vol. 4, New European Idioms, 1965–90; Vol. 5, Globalization and Fusions, 1990–2010 (New York: Oxford University Press).

2023 Jazz and Death: Reception, Rituals, and Representations. Transnational Studies in Jazz Series (New York: Routledge). Nominated for the 2023 Jazz Journalists Association Book of the Year Award in the category History/Criticism/Culture

2011 NL Real Book, Vol. 1. Founding editor. Amsterdam: Music Centre Netherlands. Co-editors Maarten van der Grinten and Michael Moore.

2002 Something to Live For: The Music of Billy Strayhorn (New York: Oxford University Press); Winner of the 2003 Irving Lowens Book Award for Distinguished Scholarship in American Music (Society of American Music); Winner of the 2003 Award for Best Research in Recorded Jazz Music (Association of Recorded Sound Collections)

Articles, Book Chapters, Reviews
Forthcoming [2024] ‘Fifty years of JazzForschung at the Institute for Jazz Research.’ JazzForschung 52.

Forthcoming [2024] ‘Is Jazz in Europe European Jazz? Countries, Continents, and Cultural Ownership.’ In the Routledge Companion to Diasporic Jazz Studies, edited by Bruce Johnson, Ádám Havas, and David Horn (New York: Routledge).

2019 ‘"Building on the Power of the Past": Discourses Surrounding the North Sea Jazz and Punda Jazz Festivals in Curaçao’ (with Bethanie Aggett). International Journal of Heritage StudiesSpecial Issue: Cultural Heritage & Improvised Music in European Festivals.

2018 ‘Swan Songs: Jazz, Death, and Famous Last Concerts.’ Book chapter, in The Routledge Companion to New Jazz Studies, edited by Tony Whyton, Nick Gebhardt, and Nicole Rustin, 55–64 (London: Routledge).

2018 ‘The Reception and Development of Jazz in the Netherlands (1945–1970s).’ Book chapter, in Politics and Cultures of Liberation: Media, Memory, and Projections of Democracy, edited by Hans Bak, Frank Mehring, and Mathilde Roza, 177–91. Radboud Studies in Humanities, vol. 7 (Leiden: Brill).

2017 ‘CHIME Travelling Exhibition: A History of Dutch Jazz Festivals in Thirty-Some Objects.’ Exhibition Guide. With Bethanie Aggett and Loes Rusch. Amsterdam: CHIME.

2017 ‘"People Wrap Their Lunches in Them": Duke Ellington and His Written Music Manuscripts.’ Book chapter, in Duke Ellington Studies Anthology, edited by John Howland, 157–76 (New York: Cambridge UP).

2017 ‘Swinging in Heaven, Boppin’ in Hell: Jazz and Death.’ Book chapter, in Singing Death: Reflections on Music and Mortality, edited by Helen Dell and Helen Hickey, 76–89 (London: Routledge).

2016 ‘"Moved to the Point Where She Could No Longer Contain Herself’: Ellington and Audience Interaction at the Newport Jazz Festival.' Invited Afterword, in Musicians and Their Audiences: Performance, Speech, and Mediation, edited by Ioannis Tsioulakis and Elina Hytönen-Ng, 195–8 (Burlington VT: Ashgate Press).

2016 ‘Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival: Marketing and Branding Jazz Heritage.’ With Bethanie Aggett. In Festivals as Integrative Sites: Valuing Tangible and Intangible Heritage for Sustainable Development, edited by Beth Perry, Laura Ager, and Rike Sitas, 12–13 (University of Sheffield).

2016 ‘Swan Songs: Jazz, Death, and Famous Last Concerts.’ Conference Proceedings, in Jazz Cosmopolitanism, edited by Hui Yu, 75–84 (Hangzhou: Zhejiang University Press).

2016 ‘Van Stan Kenton tot Pat Boone: Rhythme 1949–1961.’ Jazz Bulletin 100 (Dec.): 36–45.

2015 ‘Take the “A’ Train” and 37 vignettes on Billy Strayhorn compositions.’ In Strayhorn: An Illustrated Life, edited by Alyce Claerbout and David Schlesinger, 16, 18, 26, 31, 38, 41, 46, 48–9, 56, 62, 66, 71, 74, 83, 87, 90, 92, 94, 99, 104, 112, 120, 123, 125, 131, 133, 138, 143, 146, 149, 153, 158, 160, 163–4, 166, 168, 170, 172 (Chicago: Agate Publishing).

2014 ‘"Seldom Seen, But Always Heard": Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington.’ Book chapter, in The Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington, edited by Ed Green, 186–96 (New York: Cambridge UP).

2013 ‘Evans, Gil’; ‘Raeburn, Boyd’; ‘Strayhorn, William Thomas “Billy”’; ‘Thornhill, Claude.’ In The Grove Dictionary of American Music, 2nd Edition, edited by Charles Hiroshi Garrett (New York: Oxford UP).

2013 ‘Your Music Has Flung the Story of “Hot Harlem” to the Four Corners of the Earth! Race and Narrative in Black, Brown and Beige.’ With Lisa Barg (McGill University). Musical Quarterly (Fall-Winter) 96 (3–4): 426–58.

2013 ‘Jazzophielen versus Muziekkwakzalvers: De Jazzwereld 1931–1940.’ Jazz Bulletin 89 (Dec.): 44–51. Revised reprint from Liber Plurium Vocum voor Rokus de Groot, 2012.

2012 “'Zuivere Jazz” en “Muziekkwakzalvers”: De Jazzwereld 1931–1940.' Book chapter. In Liber Plurium Vocum voor Rokus de Groot, edited by Sander van Maas, Carolien Hulshof, and Paulien Oldenhave, 128–38. Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP. Originally appeared as ‘"Pure Jazz" and “Charlatanry”: A History of De Jazzwereld Magazine, 1931–1940.’ In Dan Morgenstern Commemorative Festschrift, 2012.

2012 Introduction as Guest Editor to Jazz Perspectives Thematic Issue on Duke Ellington. Jazz Perspectives 6: 1–2, 1–3.

2012 ‘"Pure Jazz" and “Charlatanry”: A History of De Jazzwereld Magazine, 1931–1940.’ In Dan Morgenstern Commemorative Festschrift, edited by Michael Fitzgerald. Current Research in Jazz 4 (

2012 ‘Improvisatoren versus Cliché-machines: Jazzwereld 1965–1973.’ Jazz Bulletin 82 (Mar.): 30–7.

2010 ‘Duke Ellington, Mary Lou Williams, The River, and Chief Natoma.’ DEMS Bulletin, vol. 32 (Aug.–Nov.)

2010 ‘Swingende geschiedschrijving: Mythen van de jazzgeschiedenis ontzenuwd.’ Review. Academische Boekengids, Amsterdam UP (May): 21–3.

2009 Jazz behind the dikes: Vijfentachtig jaar schrijven over jazz in Nederland. Oratiereeks (Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP).

2009 ‘De beat: what are we talking about?’ Gregoriusblad 133 (Mar.): 1, 6–9.

2003 ‘A Jungle at Duke’s Place? Titles, Credits, and the Secondary Literature.’ Blue Light (Winter): 14–15.

2003 ‘The Oxford Companion to Jazz.’ Review. Tijdschrift voor Muziektheorie (Feb.): 83–5.

2003 ‘Neder-bop en Neder-hop: Jazz in Nederland en het multi-culturele vraagstuk.’ Alternate Take 41 (Reacties op ‘Jazz en ethiek’).

2001 ‘The “American Impressionists” and the “Birth of the Cool.”’ Tijdschrift voor Muziektheorie (Feb.): 18–26.

2001 ‘Frans Elsen,’ ‘Peter Nieuwerf,’ ‘Wouter Turkenburg.’ In Koninklijk Conservatorium 175 jaar: Traditie / Ontdekking / Vernieuwing, edited by Wennekes, Emile, 52–3, 76–7, 84–5 (Den Haag: KC).

2001 ‘Annual Review of Jazz Studies.’ Review. Jazz Research News (Feb.): 56–7.

2000 ‘Scores of Scores: Einige Anmerkungen zu Manuskripten der Billy Strayhorn und Duke Ellington Sammlungen in den USA.’ In Duke Ellington und die Folgen, edited by Wolfram Knauer, 225–47 (Darmstadt: Jazz-Institut Darmstadt and Wolke Verlag).

1999 ‘Billy Strayhorn.’ In The International Dictionary of Black Composers, Vol. 2, edited by Samuel A. Floyd Jr., 1077–85 (Chicago: Columbia College of Chicago Press).

1995 ‘Een pakhuis vol papier: De Duke Ellington Collection.’ Jazz-Nu (Mar.): 14–15.

1995 ‘Billy Strayhorn: Een leven in de schaduw van Duke.’ Jazz-Nu (Mar.): 16–18.