Joplin – Three Rags (Arranged for String Quartet)

by Max Derrickson

Scott Joplin
(Born in Texarkana, Texas (uncertain) in 1867 or 1868; died in New York City in 1917)

Three Rags by Scott Joplin (arranged for String Quartet)
– The Entertainer
– Solace
– Maple Leaf Rag

It seems almost impossible to imagine that anyone in the western world has never heard Joplin’s magnificent classic rag The Entertainer (c. 1900), as popular as it is today.  This perfect little piece of music is both jazzy and classical, upbeat and melancholy, and features that rarest of all musical occurrences of having an almost instantly memorable main theme.  It is as melodiously perfect as a [. . .]  the 1973 classic film The Sting (starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford).  In his own lifetime, in fact, Joplin’s popularity was sporadic, ending in poverty and an early death due to syphilis; he was buried in an unmarked grave in 1917 at the age of 49, [. . .]  1897 rag, the Maple Leaf Rag (the closing piece in this arrangement), had brought Joplin some brief fame, [. . .]  – becoming the most important influence on the musical form that soon blossomed into Jazz.   What was so inspiring about Maple Leaf was, surely, its catchy [. . .]   Quite different in tone, however, is Solace (also subtitled “Mexican Serenade,” the second rag in this arrangement), which Joplin wrote in 1909.  Here the rich harmonies and melancholic [. . .]   by African-American influences, and their exceptional quality [. . .]