Personalities | Scott Joplin | Modern Era | Classical
More than any other composer, Joplin brought ragtime to its pinnacle: his Maple Leaf Rag (1899) is characteristic of his joyous and infectious but disciplined art, while 15 years later Magnetic Rag, with its dramatic and unexpected shifts of key, suggests a composer ready to expand into other areas. Joplin evidently thought so, since he wrote two operas, one destroyed, the other (Treemonisha, 1911) unperformed until 1974.
The Entertainer, Joshua Rifkin (Nonesuch)
On the whole a lighthearted and debonair crime-movie, The Sting, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, found not only ideally exuberant period music in Joplin’s rags, but brought them to a new audience. Joplin might well have approved: he made his living not only by publishing his music, but also by distributing it through the new medium of the piano roll.
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