King of Ragtime: Scott Joplin and His Era

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Oxford University Press, Jan 11, 1996 - Music
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In 1974, the academy award-winning film The Sting brought back the music of Scott Joplin, a black ragtime composer who died in 1917. Led by The Entertainer, one of the most popular pieces of the mid-1970s, a revival of his music resulted in events unprecedented in American musical history. Never before had any composer's music been so acclaimed by both the popular and classical music worlds. While reaching a "Top Ten" position in the pop charts, Joplin's music was also being performed in classical recitals and setting new heights for sales of classical records. His opera Treemonisha was performed both in opera houses and on Broadway. Destined to be the definitive work on the man and his music, King of Ragtime is written by Edward A. Berlin. A renowned authority on Joplin and the author of the acclaimed and widely cited Ragtime: A Musical and Cultural History, Berlin redefines the Scott Joplin biography. Using the tools of a trained musicologist, he has uncovered a vast amount of new information about Joplin. His biography truly documents the story of the composer, replacing the myths and unsupported anecdotes of previous histories. He shows how Joplin's opera Treemonisha was a tribute to the woman he loved, a woman other biographers never even mentioned. Berlin also reveals that Joplin was an associate of Irving Berlin, and that he accused Berlin of stealing his music to compose Alexander's Ragtime Band in 1911. Berlin paints a vivid picture of the ragtime years, placing Scott Joplin's story in its historical context. The composer emerges as a representative of the first post-Civil War generation of African Americans, of the men and women who found in the world of entertainment a way out of poverty and lowly social status. King of Ragtime recreates the excitement of these pioneers, who dreamed of greatness as they sought to expand the limits society placed upon their race.

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SCOTT JOPLIN: King of Ragtime

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

The second biography of legendary ragtime composer Joplin to appear this year (the first was Susan Curtis's Dancing to a Black Man's Tune: A Life of Scott Joplin, p. 450), written from the perspective ... Read full review

King of ragtime: Scott Joplin and his era

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Joplin knew he had a distinctive talent and so did several well-placed contemporaries, yet he never realized widespread acclaim during his lifetime (1868-1917). If he were alive today he could revel ... Read full review


1 The Early Years 18681893
2 Sedalia the Cradle of Classic Ragtime
3 Scott Joplin in Sedalia 18941898
4 The Maple Leaf Rag 18991900
5 The Ragtime Dance 18991901
6 The King of Ragtime Writers 19011902
7 A Guest of Honor 1903
8 Freddie 1904
11 Treemonisha 19101911
12 The Elusive Production 19111917
13 The Legacy of Scott Joplin
The Music
Three Songs
Select Bibliography

9 Final Days in the Midwest 19051907
10 New York 19071910

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About the author (1996)

Edward A. Berlin, who has a Ph.D. in musicology, is a major speaker and writer in today's ragtime world. His book Ragtime: A Musical and Cultural History is the most widely cited study of the subject, and his monograph Reflections and Research on Ragtime (1987) is winner of an ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award.

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