Best Joplin Rags

admin 11/22/2021
Some sources suggest this piece to have been named for a street in St. Louis, rather than a woman (both naming methods a common practice) that was some two blocks behind Tom Turpin's Rosebud Cafe according to a 1904 map. However, after some examination of the piece it became evident that the two plants bookending the cover were of the Eugenia variety, and since that is consistent with the flora-based names of many other Joplin rags, it is likely the basis for having named this one. Eugenia is one of Joplin's better examples of 'coloring outside of the lines.' In spite of his use of the common cakewalk/march pattern of a repeated interlude in the C section, this rag transcends many old ideas. The pattern of repeated bass octaves is present throughout the piece, providing continuity. The use of repeated phrases starting on off beats results in more interesting accumulative phrases. The interlude in the C section, while not clearly a full-fledged section itself, is still a complete 16 bars in length, and utilizes classical development techniques in a sophisticated manner. It should be also noted that this was one of the rags not published by John Stark, as it was offered during a period of cooler relations between the two. Will Rossiter of Chicago was likely ecstatic to have such name recognition associated with his company. I have interpreted parts of the highly melodic C section with contrasting dynamics and a bit of rubato in places.

I just received my copy of Scott Joplin Piano Rags by the foremost player of Joplin Rags, Joshua Rifkin. In 1981, my brother Dale and I were shopping at Surrey Place Mall, and he pointed out the audio cassette tapes of Scott Joplin Rags by Joshua Rifkin. I surprised him. Growing up listening to Scott Joplin’s rags, James P. Johnson was one of the originators of the stride piano style. His music, which used most of the conventions of ragtime, also included improvisation and elements of the blues, two aspects that were widely influential in the development of jazz.

The Entertainer
by Scott Joplin
PublisherJohn Stark & Son
DurationTypically 3:53

The Best Classical Music in the World Piano solo Hal Leonard. $19.99 - See more - Buy online Pre-shipment lead time: 3 to 5 business days. Scott Joplin - Best Of Scott Joplin Find the album here: https:/. The Entertainer by Scott Joplin (1868-1917) This is doubtless the most famous piece of Ragtime.

'The Entertainer' is a 1902 classic piano rag written by Scott Joplin.[1] It was sold first as sheet music, and in the 1910s as piano rolls that would play on player pianos.[1] The first recording was by blues and ragtime musicians the Blue Boys in 1928, played on mandolin and guitar.[1]

As one of the classics of ragtime, it returned to international prominence as part of the ragtime revival in the 1970s, when it was used as the theme music for the 1973 Oscar-winning film The Sting. Composer and pianist Marvin Hamlisch's adaptation reached #3 on the Billboardpop chart and spent a week at #1 on the easy listening chart in 1974.[2]The Sting was set in the 1930s, a full generation after the end of ragtime's mainstream popularity, thus giving the inaccurate impression that ragtime music was popular at that time.

The Recording Industry Association of America ranked it #10 on its 'Songs of the Century' list.[1]


A live performance of 'The Entertainer' in 2007.

'The Entertainer' is sub-titled 'A Rag Time Two Step', which was a form of dance popular until about 1911, and a style which was common among rags written at the time.

Its structure is: Intro–AA–BB–A–CC–Intro2–DD.[jargon][3]

Scott Joplin Rag

Best scott joplin rags

It is primarily set in the key of C major; however, for the C section (commonly referred to as the 'Trio'), it modulates to the subdominant, F major, then through a transitional passage modulates back to C major for the D section.[jargon] The B section contains an indication that the melody is to be played an octave higher on the repeat.

In the June 7, 1903, St. Louis Globe-Democrat, contemporary composer Monroe H. Rosenfeld described 'The Entertainer' as 'the best and most euphonious' of Joplin's compositions to that point. 'It is a jingling work of a very original character, embracing various strains of a retentive character which set the foot in spontaneous action and leave an indelible imprint on the tympanum'.[3]

Suggested by the rag's dedication to 'James Brown and his Mandolin Club', author Rudi Blesh wrote that 'some of the melodies recall the pluckings and the fast tremolos of the little steel-stringed plectrum instruments'.[4] Stark issued an arrangement of the piece for two mandolins and a guitar.[3]



The copyright on 'The Entertainer' was registered December 29, 1902, along with two other Joplin rags, 'A Breeze from Alabama' and 'Elite Syncopations', all three of which were published by John Stark & Son of St. Louis, Missouri.[3] The centerpiece of the original cover art featured a minstrel show caricature of a black man in formal attire on a theater stage.

Popularity and legacy[edit]

In November 1970, Joshua Rifkin released a recording called Scott Joplin: Piano Rags[5] on the classical label Nonesuch, which featured as its second track 'The Entertainer'. It sold 100,000 copies in its first year and eventually became Nonesuch's first million-selling record.[6] The Billboard 'Best-Selling Classical LPs' chart for September 28, 1974, has the record at #5, with the follow-up Volume 2 at #4, and a combined set of both volumes at #3. Separately both volumes had been on the chart for sixty-four weeks.[7] The album was nominated in 1971 for two Grammy Award categories, Best Album Notes and Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without orchestra), but at the ceremony on March 14, 1972, Rifkin did not win in any category.[8] In 1979 Alan Rich in the New York Magazine wrote that by giving artists like Rifkin the opportunity to put Joplin's music on disk, Nonesuch Records 'created, almost alone, the Scott Joplin revival'.[9]

Marvin Hamlisch lightly adapted and orchestrated Joplin's music for the 1973 film The Sting, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score and Adaptation on April 2, 1974.[8] His version of 'The Entertainer' reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 on May 18, 1974,[10][11] prompting The New York Times to write, 'the whole nation has begun to take notice'.[12] Thanks to the film and its score, Joplin's work became appreciated in both the popular and classical music worlds, becoming (in the words of music magazine Record World), the 'classical phenomenon of the decade'.[13] In the United States, 'The Entertainer' is one of many songs commonly played by ice cream trucks to attract attention.[14]

See also[edit]

Original Rags Joplin


  1. ^ abcdSullivan, Steve (May 12, 2017). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings. 3. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 32–33. ISBN9781442254497.
  2. ^Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–2001. Record Research. p. 110. ISBN0-89820-149-7.
  3. ^ abcdJasen, David A.; Trebor Jay Tichenor (1978). Rags and Ragtime: A Musical History. New York: Dover. pp. 89–90. ISBN0-486-25922-6.
  4. ^Rudi Blesh, p. xxiv, 'Scott Joplin: Black-American Classicist', Introduction to Scott Joplin Collected Piano Works, New York Public Library, 1981
  5. ^'Scott Joplin Piano Rags Nonesuch Records CD (w/bonus tracks)'. Retrieved March 19, 2009.
  6. ^'Nonesuch Records'. Retrieved March 19, 2009.
  7. ^Billboard 1974a, p. 61.
  8. ^ abLA Times n.d.
  9. ^Rich 1979.
  10. ^'Charis Music Group, compilation of cue sheets from the American Top 40 radio Show'(PDF). Retrieved September 5, 2009.
  11. ^Billboard 1974b, p. 64.
  12. ^Kronenberger, John (August 11, 1974). 'The Ragtime Revival—A Belated Ode to Composer Scott'. The New York Times.
  13. ^Record World Magazine. July 1974, quoted in: Berlin, Edward A. (1996). King of Ragtime: Scott Joplin and His Era, p. 251.
  14. ^Neely, Daniel Tannehill (Spring 2005). 'Soft Serve: Charting the aural promise of ice cream truck music'(PDF). Esopus. New York City (4). Archived from the original(PDF) on February 5, 2009.

Scott Joplin Piano Rags Youtube


  • 'Entertainment Awards Database'. Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on January 18, 2012. Retrieved March 17, 2009.
  • 'Best Selling Classical LPs'. Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. (September 28, 1974). 1974a. Retrieved July 29, 2011.
  • 'Hot 100'. Billboard. Nielsen Business Media (May 18, 1974). 1974b. Retrieved August 5, 2011.
  • Rich, Alan (1979). 'Music'. New York (December 24, 1979): 81. Retrieved August 5, 2011.

External links[edit]

Wikisource has original text related to this article:
  • Media related to Scott Joplin The Entertainer at Wikimedia Commons
  • Musical score and MIDI file at the Mutopia Project
  • Sheet music and mp3 at (interactive version requires Sibelius Scorch)
  • Free typeset sheet music from

Best Joplin Rags

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