King of Ragtime
Scott Joplin and His Era
Oxford University Press 2016
New Books in African American StudiesNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in BiographyNew Books in MusicNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Popular CultureNew Books Network June 15, 2016 Mark Klobas
Few composers dominate a genre of music as completely as did Scott Joplin. From the publication of his iconic Maple Leaf Rag in 1899 onward his ragtime compositions came to serve as the soundtrack of his age. Yet Joplin aspired to be recognized not just as a successful writer of popular tunes but as a respected composer of classical music, an ambition that led him to write a ballet and two operas. In a new edition of his biography of Scott Joplin, King of Ragtime: Scott Joplin and His Era, the eminent ragtime scholar Ed Berlin reveals many new details that sharpen our understanding of Joplin’s life and the times in which it was lived. Tracing his life from his childhood in rural Texas to his death in New York City in 1917, he describes Joplin’s career as a musician and composer, setting it within the context of an African American community seeking to define its place within American society. Through his extensive research, Berlin sheds new light on Joplin’s personal life, his business affairs, and the public reception of his music, helping us to better understand the impact and legacy of this great American artist.