Scott Joplin and the Age of Ragtime


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About the Book

At the turn of the twentieth century, Scott Joplin struggled on the margins of society to play a pivotal role in the creation of ragtime music. His brief life and tragic death encompassed a tumultuous time of changes in modern music, culture, and technology.
This biography follows Joplin’s life from the brothels and bars of St. Louis to the music mills of Tin Pan Alley as he introduced a syncopated, lively style to classical piano.

About the Author(s)

The late Ray Argyle was a journalist and media consultant. His articles appeared in such magazines as Reader’s Digest, France Today, and World War II History. He lived in Kingston, Ontario.

Bibliographic Details

Ray Argyle
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 231
Bibliographic Info: 16 photos, appendix, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2009
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4376-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii

Prelude      1

Part I—Breaking All the Rules: The 1890s      3

1. A Medley for the Fair: A Time to Start Raggin’ It      6

2. My Kind of Town: Hot Nights in the City      16

3. The Making of the Legend: A Boy and a Banjo      26

4. Marching to a Ragtime Tune      38

Part II—The Music Makers Play Main Street: The 1900s      49

5. Writing in Ragtime      51

6. Tin Pan Alley and All That Jazz: Footloose in “Black Bohemia”      65

7. They All Played Ragtime: Scott Joplin and Irving Berlin—A Case of Plagiarism?      79

8. The Girls of Ragtime and the Cult of Celebrity: Murder, Passion and Honor      87

Part III—The Dream That Wouldn’t Die: The 1910s      99

9. Dancing in Ragtime      101

10. The Censors and the Erotic Life      112

11. Reporting in Ragtime      124

12. Dreaming of Treemonisha      137

Part IV—After the Rag: The Finale      147

13. Little Mary and the Little Tramp: Ragtime Partners of the Silent Screen      149

14. The Rites of Spring: The Martyred Saint of the Ragtime Era      159

15. Ragtime in Revival      169

16. Echoes of the Music: We’re All Still Playing Ragtime      179

The Life and Times of Scott Joplin      187

Scott Joplin’s Compositions      189

Sources of Quotations      193

Appendix: Ragtime in the Newspapers      201

Bibliography      215

Index      219

Book Reviews & Awards

“Ray Argyle is an author who writes exceptionally fascinating stories on social and cultural change.”—Toronto Globe and Mail; “not simply a musical history…ragtime aficionados and the new-to-ragtime together will be delighted by the information…and creative take Argyle has on this music Joplin and his contemporaries gave us”—ARSC Journal; “an excellent read, for musicians, historians and the curious”—