Ragtime Heading into the 21st Century

As a bar pianist, he played in saloons and brothels, until he created a new music style: Scott Joplin, the father of ragtime. About 100 years ago, the music with its daring leaps of the left hand and perky syncopations of the right reached its popularity peak before it was superseded by jazz. But then came the unexpected comeback: In 1973, Scott Joplin’s “Entertainer” became a hit again almost overnight because of its use in the film comedy “The Sting.” Since then, this ragtime classic has been blaring from vans coming to American neighborhoods to sell ice cream. Young, ambitious pianists breathe new life into ragtime. In an annual world championship devoted to old time piano playing, they work anything into ragtime style, from Beethoven’s “Für Elise” to the Nokia tune for cell phones. Meanwhile, the Internet portal YouTube is becoming a place where musicians and fans of ragtime exchange ideas. Georg Hirsch is taking a look at one century of ragtime music.

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