Ragtime was one of styles of the late nineteenth century popular music. It had flourished from dance forms and romantic miniatures and combined a clear construction with lots of attractive features. The main characteristic was syncopated, dance, ragged rhythm, which was the source for the name of the whole style in popular piano music. It has some formal similarities with marches by John Philip Sousa and with European folk dances. Between different the most popular was “classic style ragtime” presented by Scott Joplin and Missouri school. The term was created by John Stillwell Stark, publisher and promoter of ragtime music who considered these compositions as classical music pieces. In Stark’s sheet editions Scott Joplin was presented along with Joseph Francis Lamb, James Scott and many others, including editor’s eldest son Etilmon J. Stark. In twentieth after the Great War, ragtime has declined as the new trends in popular music were growing up.
Scott Joplin was composer of melodic, syncopated pieces of classic ragtime. He was the one of first professional Afro-American composers in United States and leading composer of piano music in ragtime era. He wrote 44 ragtime pieces shortly called “rags”, a ragtime ballet and first Afro-American opera Tremonisha. His early years were a moderate success, but after great success of Maple Leaf Rag in 1899, he became appreciated and praised composer. He settled in St. Louis and was trying to develop his style. Ragtime in this period is in most cases based on the matrix of Maple Leaf Rag. But Joplin was creative and searching pianist so he was breaking sometimes these schemes and building more complex forms. Good example is Solace titled as A Mexican Serenade.
|Joshua Rifkin - Piano Rags by Scott Joplin - Volume II (1972)|
Two years after comeback of Joplin’s music, in 1972 Joshua Rifkin recorded next Joplin Piano Rag album. Under the title Piano Rags by Scott Joplin – Volume II it features eight compositions from most successful period in composer’s life, between 1902 and 1909. Starting with Elite Syncopations from 1902 and concluded with Pine Apple Rag from 1908, album shows most subtle and classical side of Joplin’s work. Firmly establish rhythms of steady left hand, syncopated melodies of right hand and brave harmonics were clear instruction for next generation of composers of popular music and jazz. Opening the second side Bethana is a concert waltz and one of his most romantic compositions. And again Solace – A Mexican Serenade shows how clear Joplin’s musical narration can be. This recording became standard of interpreting Joplin’s music. It is supported by academic authority of the performer and critical acclaim. In 1976 Scott Joplin was awarded posthumously with a Pulitzer Prize.