|by Scott Joplin|
First edition cover of "The Entertainer"
|Form||Ragtime two step|
|Publisher||John Stark & Son|
"The Entertainer" is a 1902 classic piano rag written by Scott Joplin.It was sold first as sheet music, and in the 1910s as piano rolls that would play on player pianos. The first recording was by blues and ragtime musicians the Blue Boys in 1928, played on mandolin and guitar.
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 Billboard pop chart and spent a week at #1 on the easy listening chart in 1974.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.
"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.
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. 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."
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".Stark issued an arrangement of the piece for two mandolins and a guitar.
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.The centerpiece of the original cover art featured a minstrel show caricature of a black man in formal attire on a theater stage.
In November 1970, Joshua Rifkin released a recording called Scott Joplin: Piano Ragson 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. 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. 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. 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."
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.His version of "The Entertainer" reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 on May 18, 1974, prompting The New York Times to write, "the whole nation has begun to take notice." 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." In the United States, "The Entertainer" is one of many songs commonly played by ice cream trucks to attract attention.
Ragtime – also spelled rag-time or rag time – is a musical style that enjoyed its peak popularity between 1895 and 1919. Its cardinal trait is its syncopated or "ragged" rhythm.
Scott Joplin was an American composer and pianist. Joplin achieved fame for his ragtime compositions and was dubbed the King of Ragtime. During his brief career, he wrote over 100 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two operas. One of his first and most popular pieces, the "Maple Leaf Rag", became ragtime's first and most influential hit, and has been recognized as the archetypal rag.
The Sting is a 1973 American caper film set in September 1936, involving a complicated plot by two professional grifters to con a mob boss. The film was directed by George Roy Hill, who had directed Newman and Redford in the western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Created by screenwriter David S. Ward, the story was inspired by real-life cons perpetrated by brothers Fred and Charley Gondorff and documented by David Maurer in his 1940 book The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man.
Joseph Francis Lamb was an American composer of ragtime music. Lamb, of Irish descent, was the only non-African American of the "Big Three" composers of classical ragtime, the other two being Scott Joplin and James Scott. The ragtime of Joseph Lamb ranges from standard popular fare to complex and highly engaging. His use of long phrases was influenced by classical works he had learned from his sister and others while growing up, but his sense of structure was potentially derived from his study of Joplin's piano rags. By the time he added some polish to his later works in the 1950s, Lamb had mastered the classic rag genre in a way that almost no other composer was able to approach at that time, and continued to play it passably as well, as evidenced by at least two separate recordings done in his home, as well as a few recorded interviews.
James Sylvester Scott was an American ragtime composer and pianist, regarded as one of the three most important composers of classic ragtime, along with Scott Joplin and Joseph Lamb.
The "Maple Leaf Rag" is an early ragtime musical composition for piano composed by Scott Joplin. It was one of Joplin's early works, and became the model for ragtime compositions by subsequent composers. It is one of the most famous of all ragtime pieces. As a result, Joplin became dubbed the "King of Ragtime" by his contemporaries. The piece gave Joplin a steady if unspectacular income for the rest of his life.
John Stillwell Stark was an American publisher of ragtime music, best known for publishing and promoting the music of Scott Joplin.
Charles Leslie Johnson was an American composer of ragtime and popular music. He was born in Kansas City, Kansas, died in Kansas City, Missouri, and lived his entire life in those two cities. He published over 300 songs in his life, nearly 40 of them ragtime compositions such as "Doc Brown’s Cakewalk", "Dill Pickles", "Apple Jack ", and "Snookums Rag". His best selling piece, a sentimental ballad called "Sweet and Low", sold over a million copies. Experts believe that had Johnson lived and worked in New York, he would be included alongside Scott Joplin, James Scott, and Joseph Lamb as one of the greatest ragtime composers. He wrote more than the other three combined and exemplified a greater range of talent, composing waltzes, tangos, cakewalks, marches, novelty pieces, and other types of music popular at that time.
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Joshua Rifkin is an American conductor, keyboard player, and musicologist, and is currently a Professor of Music at Boston University. As a performer he has recorded music by composers from Antoine Busnois to Silvestre Revueltas, and as a scholar has published research on composers from the Renaissance to the 20th century. He is famed among classical musicians and aficionados for his increasingly influential theory that most of Bach's choral works were sung with only one singer per choral line. Rifkin argued: "So long as we define 'chorus' in the conventional modern sense, then Bach's chorus, with few exceptions, simply did not exist." He is best known by the general public, however, for having played a central role in the ragtime revival in the 1970s, with the three albums he recorded of Scott Joplin's works for Nonesuch Records.
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