On a friend's recommendation, I recently read From Dvořák to Duke Ellington by Maurice Peress. It's an entertaining cross between history and memoir, and both aspects shed light on the little-known connections between Czech composer Antonín Dvořák (who urged his American students to found a tradition of truly American music on the strength of what were then known as "Negro melodies") and the American composers George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, and Duke Ellington (all of whom studied under teachers who in turn had studied under Dvořák during his time in America). The rhythms of historical influence are fascinating, eh? ;-) Further suggested listening: an interview with Peress (I have not checked it out yet) and the Marcus Roberts recording Portraits in Blue (to which I'm listening at the moment).
Peter Saint-Andre > Journal