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In 1974, the academy award-winning film The Sting brought back the music of Scott Joplin, a black ragtime composer who died in 1917. Led by The Entertainer, one of the most popular pieces of the mid-1970s, a revival of his music resulted in events unprecedented in American musical history. Never before had any composer's music been so acclaimed by both the popular and classical music worlds. While reaching a "Top Ten" position in the pop charts, Joplin's music was also being performed in classical recitals and setting new heights for sales of classical records. His opera Treemonisha was performed both in opera houses and on Broadway.
Destined to be the definitive work on the man and his music, King of Ragtime is written by Edward A. Berlin. A renowned authority on Joplin and the author of the acclaimed and widely cited Ragtime: A Musical and Cultural History, Berlin redefines the Scott Joplin biography. Using the tools of a trained musicologist, he has uncovered a vast amount of new information about Joplin. His biography truly documents the story of the composer, replacing the myths and unsupported anecdotes of previous histories. He shows how Joplin's opera Treemonisha was a tribute to the woman he loved, a woman other biographers never even mentioned. Berlin also reveals that Joplin was an associate of Irving Berlin, and that he accused Berlin of stealing his music to compose Alexander's Ragtime Band in 1911.
Berlin paints a vivid picture of the ragtime years, placing Scott Joplin's story in its historical context. The composer emerges as a representative of the first post-Civil War generation of African Americans, of the men and women who found in the world ofentertainment a way out of poverty and lowly social status. King of Ragtime recreates the excitement of these pioneers, who dreamed of greatness as they sought to expand the limits society placed upon their race.
Posted June 21, 2012
I have nearly finished this book and have enjoyed it immensely. As the previous reviewer said, Dr. Berlin provided all the facts he could and used educated guesses when information could not be verified. It's kind of sad that so much information has been lost about a man who in his lifetime was known as the King of Ragtime. One thing I had fun doing was listening to the pieces as Dr. Berlin talked about them in the book. Overall, I recommend it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 29, 2012
I had to write an essay on Scott Joplin for school, and I could have gotten all of my information from this book alone. While other books contradicted themselves, Berlin answered unknown questions with certainty and admitted to a lack of knowledge when he couldn't. Every other book that I looked at either guessed or took the nearest date when they were unsure. I would rather have someone tell me that they are not 100% certain, but they have an educated guess than lead me to believe in untrue information. All in all, it was extremely interesting, and I recomend that you buy this book. At first I just bought it because it wasn't very expensive, and I needed another source for my research project, but inbetween the photos of actual contracts and quotes from people that Berlin directly interviewed, I cannot think of a better book to read, for fun or for reasearch.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.