Scott Joplin

Paragon Rag, for piano

    Description by Adrian Corleonis

    With the death of an infant daughter and the breakup of his marriage to Belle Hayden -- sister of his protégé and constant collaborator, Scott Hayden -- in 1906 Joplin, billed as "King of Ragtime Composers -- Author of Maple Leaf Rag," disappears into the limbo of the nomad and itinerant vaudeville entertainer. We catch sight of him again in 1907 or 1908 being introduced to the 20-year-old Joseph Francis Lamb -- now recognized as the third in the triumvirate of classic ragtime composers after Joplin and James Scott -- in John Stark's music store in New York City. Joplin invited him visit. "I went to his boarding house a few evenings later and he asked me to play my pieces on the piano in the parlor. A lot of colored people were sitting around talking. I played my Sensation first and they began to crowd around and watch me. When I finished, Joplin said, 'That's a good rag -- a regular Negro rag.' That's what I wanted to hear...." On Joplin's recommendation, Sensation was published by Stark Music Co. in 1908 with notice on the cover, "Arranged by Scott Joplin," suggested by Joplin as a way to instant recognition for the unknown composer. Stark continued to publish Lamb's rags right through World War I, even as newborn jazz elbowed its ragtime parent aside. In 1909 Joplin married Lottie Stokes, who proved a loving companion and capable helpmate managing the rooming house ménage, populated by musicians and theater people, in which he felt at home. Gladiolus Rag, published in 1907 by Stern in New York, had been a milestone in Joplin's drive toward a more supple, richer way with ragtime, even as rag's simple four-strain format invited facile, pounding, commercial imitation whose innate vacuity would saturate the market. From Gladiolus on, nearly everything to which Joplin turned his hand emerged as an opulent concatenation, seemingly but deceptively straightforward. Nonpareil, Lily Queen (with Scott Hayden), and -- in collaboration with the doomed Louis Chauvin -- Heliotrope Bouquet in 1907, with Sugar Cane and Pine Apple Rag the following year, combine exuberance with subtlety and superb workmanship, setting the stage for the uniquely happy masterpieces of 1909 -- the sleekly purring Wall Street Rag, the seductive tango/maxixe Solace, the intricate invention of Euphonic Sounds, and the escalating incandescence of the Paragon Rag, with its second strain reminiscence of the bordello ballad Bucket's Got a Hole in It -- Can't Get No Beer, and deft breaks anticipating Zez Confrey and Billy Mayerl.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 William Appling Singers & Orchestra WASO 2008-4
    2017 Rivermont 2240
    2014 Shout! Factory / Shout! Records
    2011 EMI Classics 5099908293428
    2010 Micro Werks MIW 101069
    2010 Nimbus 2546/8
    2008 CCT / EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099923447
    2008 Primo Records PRMCD 6061
    2005 EMI Angel / Angel Records / EMI Music Distribution 76980
    2005 Intersound 5970
    2005 Nonesuch
    2005 Jazz Forever CD 67008
    2004 Golden Classics / Madacy 3361
    2004 Deutsche Grammophon / Universal Classics 291602
    2004 Naxos 8559114
    2004 Basta 309126
    2003 Biograph / Shout! Factory 30156
    2003 Ottavo 70283
    2003 Ottavo 70283
    2003 Blumountain Records 90727
    2002 Solo Art 4849
    2000 Sony Music Distribution SFK-89267
    2000 Viridiana Productions LLC / VRD i216_10695
    1999 Intersound 3856
    1999 White Line / ASV / ASV/Living Era CDWHL 2120
    1998 Dinemec 020
    1996 Classical Heritage 1715
    1996 Classical Heritage 1719
    1995 Pavane 7317
    1995 Centaur Records 2408
    1993 Biograph BCD 102
    1993 Laserlight 15945
    1993 Delta Distribution / Laserlight 17024
    1992 Ambassador 1008
    1992 Bescol BSCD-4/4
    1991 RCA 60842-2-RG
    1990 Musicmasters / MusicMasters 7061-2-C
    1989 Newport Classic 60039
    1989 Newport Classic 60039
    Sine Qua Non 79002
    Angel Records 64668
    Musidisc 550112
    Pro-Arte Records 874