From the third page of Robin Kelley's Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original:
The truth is Thelonious Monk possessed an impressive knowledge of, and appreciation for, Western classical music, not to mention an encyclopedic knowledge of hymns and gospel music, American popular songs, and a variety of obscure art songs that defy easy categorization. For him, it was all music...Monk loved Frédéric Chopin, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Beethoven, and Bach, and like many of his peers of the bebop generation, he took an interest in Igor Stravinsky. And his life was no more monastic than any other urban jazzman's.Kelley goes on to research the life of Monk's slave ancestors and points out the connection with Julius Monk, a white cabaret impresario in New York whose great-grandfather owned those slaves:
Had he known this history, he might have been inspired to head down to the Five Spot after his show and thank Thelonious personally for the privileged life he was able to enjoy...Julius's excellent musical education, like his father's and brother's medical school education, was partly paid for with inherited wealth, the source of which turned out to be the sweat and toil of John Jack Monk [Thelonious' great-grandfather] and the other African-descended people held in bondage.
This is going to be an interesting book. The NY Times has an excerpt.