Composer of some of the most beloved and often-covered American popular songs, including “Autumn in New York,” “I Can’t Get Started,” and, of course, “April in Paris,” Vernon Duke was born Vladimir Dukelsky. Fleeing Russia after the revolution, young Dukelsky moved around Europe for several years, where he accepted commissions from the likes of Artur Rubenstein and ballet impresario Serge Diaghilev.
Settling in America, he began composing for Broadway in the early 1930s. At this point, on the advice of his friend George Gershwin, Dukelsky adopted the name Vernon Duke for his popular compositions, while retaining his own name for concert works and ballet. Composed in 1932 for a Broadway revue entitled “Walk a Little Faster,” “April in Paris” was later adopted as a signature tune by the Count Basie Orchestra.