As the undisputed King of Ragtime Writers, Scott Joplin (1868--1917) composed many of the best-loved and most popular compositions of the ragtime era. His works include not only classic rags, but marches, waltzes, and cakewalks of incredible beauty that have stood the test of time. This book features Joplin's complete works for piano, in their original editions. Produced in cooperation with the New York Public Library, this comprehensive sheet music collection also includes an introduction by Vera Brodsky Lawrence and an ...
As the undisputed King of Ragtime Writers, Scott Joplin (1868--1917) composed many of the best-loved and most popular compositions of the ragtime era. His works include not only classic rags, but marches, waltzes, and cakewalks of incredible beauty that have stood the test of time. This book features Joplin's complete works for piano, in their original editions. Produced in cooperation with the New York Public Library, this comprehensive sheet music collection also includes an introduction by Vera Brodsky Lawrence and an historical essay by noted ragtime scholar Rudi Blesh. This 376-page book features lay-flat binding designed to stay open on a piano music rack.
This wonderful collection of the piano music of Scott Joplin (1867 - 1917) was originally published by the New York Public Library in 1971 and edited by Vera Brodsky Lawrence. With additions in 1981, the book includes the score for virtually all of Joplin's solo piano works, including 41 "original works", 7 "collaborative works", 3 "miscellaneous works", and 3 additional rags added to the volume in 1981 when permission was secured from the holder of the copyright. I have had this volume for many years and continue to study and learn from it, in playing familiar works and learning new pieces. The volume is an endless source of delight and inspiration.
Born in east Texas to a father who had been a former slave and to a free black mother, Joplin showed musical talent at an early age and received free piano lessons oriented towards classical music from a local white teacher who recognized his talent. At 14, Joplin left home and assumed a wandering life in hopes of furthering his dream to become a composer and musician. He ultimately settled in St. Louis and Sedalia, Missouri where he began to compose the ragtime that would make him famous. Late in life Joplin moved to New York City where he continued to compose ragtime while spending most of his energy on his opera "Treemonisha." His music was in danger of being forgotten until interest revived in the early 1970s through the use of his music in the movie, "The Sting", the revival of "Treemonisha" and the publication of this volume of his music.
This volume includes familiar and unfamiliar Joplin. The most familiar of his ragtime works are the "Maple Leaf Rag" (1897) and "The Entertainer" (1902) which became famous when used in "The Sting." Among the other rags I have enjoyed and learned to play over the years are "Elite Syncopations" (1902), "Weeping Willow Rag" (1903) , "Pine Apple Rag" (1908), "Wall Street Rag" (1909), and several others. Joplin also combined with friends and students in writing some pieces, including "Heliotrope Bouquet" (1907) with the gifted but troubled Louis Chauvin and "Swipesy" (1900) which Joplin wrote with his young student, Arthur Marshall. Joplin also wrote beautiful waltzes, including "Bethena" (1905) and "Binks Waltz" (1905). He also wrote a tango called "Solace" (1909).
Joplin's music is varied, strongly syncopated, and melodious. Joplin tried to combine African American and classical music idioms to help create a distinctively American music. This is an elusive goal that has been pursued by many other composers. His piano music is not easy to play but is generally within the reach of determined amateurs, such as myself. Joplin wrote a set of exercises, the "School of Ragtime" (1908) to help aspiring pianists learn the skills needed to play his music. Joplin also said regarding his works:
"That real ragtime of the higher class is rather difficult to play is rather a painful truth which most pianists have discovered. Syncopations are no indications of light and trashy music, and to shy bricks at `hateful ragtime' no longer passes for musical culture."
In addition to the musical scores, this book includes a lengthy introduction "Scott Joplin: Black-American Classicist" by ragtime scholar Rudy Blesh which offers an excellent overview of the composer's life and music and of performance practices. Over the years, I have played Joplin for my own enjoyment, for friends, and at various venues on a volunteer basis. When I play for others, I generally combine classical works, with a performance of Joplin's "Bethena" together with some of the ragtime works. I find that Joplin's music is almost invariably the best-received of the works I perform by both knowledgeable and less-knowledgeable audiences.
Scott Joplin remains an American treasure. As Joplin wished, his music breaks down claimed musical boundaries between classical and popular. This volume will bring joy to lovers of the piano and to serious pianists, whether amateur or professional.
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