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Before the development of the phonograph in the early 1890s, written music was
the only way of preserving a musical performance, and the written score continued to
play an important role in every day musical life until well into the rock and roll era.
Even today songbooks of hits by popular recording artists are still the basic texts for
young musicians. Printed scores were especially important in the development of
ragtime, the African American musical form that antedated jazz and contributed much of
the form and instrumental style to early jazz, especially in New Orleans.
The attempts to annotate and popularize the rhythms of African American music
began before the Civil War, and the earliest examples in the archive date from the mid1840s, with piano music for “African” quadrilles and piano arrangements for southern
melodies. The music from this period is a unique glimpse into the beginnings of today’s
black musical styles.
Ann Charters was the first pianist to record the classic ragtime of Scott Joplin in
the style indicated by his printed scores, and in the years of research it took to gather and
prepare the music for recording there was a determined effort to gather as much ragtime
as possible. The archive has a strong collection of ragtime sheet music, from the classic
compositions published by John Stark in St. Louis to the novelty ragtime songs published
by Irving Berlin. Also in the archive is a set of the original publications of Joseph Lamb,
who is generally considered one of the three most important ragtime composers. We
recorded Lamb for Folkways Records in 1959, and he presented us with copies of his
original publications, all of them signed.
Another unique item in the archive is an original orchestra part book for the famed
“Red Back Book.” This was the collection of ragtime orchestrations that became the
foundation for New Orleans jazz, and were used in the ragtime revival of the 1970s.
The archive also includes the music which Ann Charters used for her recordings.
Many of the pieces are in photostat copies mounted on cards, some, because of the
difficulty of obtaining copies of the ragtime classics in the 1950s, are hand copied from
originals in the Library of Congress and from the collection of Trebor Tichenor in St.
II C1. Pre-Ragtime Instrumental Compositions and a
Minstrel Show Song Collection
Bonnell, Otto. TURKEY IN THE STRAW “A Rag-Time Fantasie.” Chicago: Will
Rossiter, 1899. Folder 216
Although the piece is called a ragtime fantasie it is an arrangement of the well
known piece with only simple syncopation. The back page of the cover reproduces
the first page of the early classic rag by Tom Turpin, “A Rag-Time Nightmare.”
DANDY JIM OF CAROLINE & OLD DAN TUCKER. “Arranged as Cotillions for
the Piano Forte.” Philadelphia: George Willig, 1844. Folder 218
No arranger is credited for the simple piano versions of these two widely known
southern melodies. Dance instructions are included with the arrangement of
“Old Dan Tucker.”
Foster’s melodies were very popular in 19th century America, and they were often
arranged for piano solo, sometimes as quadrilles, but usually as concert pieces, in
the light classical style of the era.
Baker, Thos. AMERICAN BALLAD QUADRILLE. “Arranged from Stephen C.
Foster’s Popular American Melodies.” New York: Firth, Pond & Co., 1858.
Folder 215
Gimbel, Charles Jr. OLD BLACK JOE. “Grand Paraphrase de Concert on the
Popular Melody.” New York: Wm. A Pond & Co, 1877. Folder 214
Snow, J. Albert. OLD FOLKS AT HOME. “Swanee River Variations.” New
York: Hitchcock and McCargo Publishing Company, 1889. Folder 213
The music is incomplete, including only the first four measures of Variation 4.
This is the title of the first of several dance and song compositions sewn together
and probably taken from a performer’s bound collection. The pieces date from
1842 to 1864. Two of the selections include material which has a connection to
African American or folk American melodies. One is an arrangement of
“Rackensack Jig or the Arkansas Traveler” from THE ENGAGEMENT
QUADRILLE. Composed by H. Kleber. New York, Wm. A Pond & Co., 1851.
The other is an arrangement, with 13 verses of text, of the ballad “A Frog He
Would A Wooing Go.” “A Sentimental Song Written And Composed by one John
Smith.” Boston: Parker & Ditson, nd. “John Smith” is certainly a pseudonym, and
there could be no composer credit for the song since it had circulated in the folk
tradition for many generations before this early publication.
Onyqjva, A. Nagerj. THE ETHOPIAN QUADRILLES. Arranged by A. Nagerj
New York: William Hall & Son, 1848. Twelfth Edition. Folder 94
Contains arrangements of Gwin Ober De Mountain, Jonny Boker, De Old Jaw
Bone, Jumbo Jum, and Jim Along Josey.
Scherpf, John C. AFRICAN QUADRILLES Selected from the most Admired Negro
Melodies and Arranged for the Piano Forte by John C. Scherpf. Second Edition.
New York: F. Riley, 1844. Folder 95
Contains arrangements of The Yaller Gals, The New York Gals, Quick Step
Motion, The Charleston Gals, and Indian Nation.
Gordon, nd. Folder 217
This is one of a group of pieces titled EVENING RECREATIONS “A Collection
of Popular Quadrilles.” The Schubert who is credited as composer is not Franz
For the informal entertainments and dances that were popular everywhere in the
country often the only instrument was the fiddle, and the fiddler was expected to play
every kind of dance and song melody. This collection includes many southern pieces
with African American rhythmic and melodic characteristics. Although it was published
during the Civil War by a New York publisher the collection opens with “Dixie’s Land,”
which could have been a covert anti-war statement by the company.
Newest and most popular Patriotic Airs, Plantation Songs, Walk-Arounds, Jigs,
Hornpipes, Reels, Banjo-Tunes, Quadrilles, Polkas, Redowas, Waltzes, and
Galops. New York: Firth, Pond & Co., 1862. Dodd
During much of the 19th century in America the minstrel show was the dominant
popular entertainment. Since the premise of the shows was a depiction of the “darky”
character the music often attempted to imitate rhythmic and melodic elements of African
American folk material, although every aspect of the minstrel show functioned as a
denigration of the show’s “darkies.” This collection, like other collections of similar
material, includes many of the songs of Stephen Foster. It also includes the song
“Dixie’s Land,” by the early minstrel performer Dan Emmett, which had by this time
become the symbol of the South as “Dixie.” Another of the songs is a celebration of one
of the first white artists to become adept on the banjo, Picayune Butler. Butler appeared
in black face with an African style banjo, but his instrument was constructed from a dried
American gourd, which is round, rather than the elongated, flatter shape of the African
gourd. The song is usually known as “Picayune Butler Come To Town,” but here it is
titled simply “Picayune Butler.”
MINSTREL SONGS OLD AND NEW. “A collection of World-Wide, Famous Minstrel
And Plantation Songs.” Boston: Oliver Ditson & Company, 1882. Dodd 1575
II C2. Early Ragtime Era Dance Pieces, Syncopated
Marches, and “Coon” songs
Before our modern area of recordings, radio, and television, entertainment was
often “home grown.” Every middle-class family owned at least a piano, and usually all
of the children received music instruction. For small dances and parties semiprofessional musicians could be hired to entertain. Often the pianists, many of them
women, grew tired of carrying loose sheet music from one parlor to another, and they had
their music bound into large volumes, usually arranged loosely in the order which the
pianist would need melodies - beginning with marches, proceeding to dance novelties,
and ending with waltzes and semi-classical numbers. These collections are particularly
useful in suggesting how much African-American dance material - cake-walks and rags was performed during the evening. A glance at one of these collections makes it clear
that ragtime was performed only as the occasional novelty. Our own patience with an
entire concert of ragtime would have been considered bizarre in the ragtime era.
This collection is bound in leather, with marbled end papers, and the title “Music”
embossed in gold on the front cover. Several of the selections were published by
Canadian publishers, and some of the American publishers are stamped with the name of
a Montreal music store, suggesting that the pianist was Canadian. Also bound into the
collection is a medley of “Orange Music,” marching songs of the Northern Ireland
Protestant marching societies, suggesting that the pianist was either recently from
Northern Ireland or performed for Protestant groups in Montreal. The covers and
advertising material for most of the music has been bound into the volume, although the
larger pieces of music have been trimmed to a uniform size of 13 1/4” by 10 1/4,” losing
some of the page margins but not effecting the music itself. The collection begins with
marches by John Philip Sousa, reflecting his widespread popularity.
Three of the compositions included are related to popular African-American
musical idioms.
Holzman, Abe. SMOKY MOKES. Cakewalk & Two-Step. New York: Feist &
Frankenthaler, 1899. Folder 245
The back cover presents “Coon Songs That Are Hits,” and reproduces the first
pages of “You Get All That’s Coming To You,” “First You Do The Rag, Then
You Bombershay, or That’s How The Rag-Time Dance Is Done,” “Got Your
Habits On,” and “I’se Got Another Nigger On My Staff.”
Mills, Kerry. AT A GEORGIA CAMPMEETING. March. New York: F. A. Mills,
1897. Folder 245
Reinhard, Louis. THE INTERNATIONAL CAKEWALK. New York: W. B. Gray &
Co., 1898. Folder 245
The inside cover material reprints eight measures of “Every Nigger Had A Lady
But Me.”
In the early years of ragtime there was considerable confusion as to what the term
“rag” meant. To many musicians it was simply a way of playing material in “ragged”
time, that is a syncopated melodic approach that was derived from the popular conception
of African American melody. To others, including the “classic” ragtime composers, a
rag was more than a style, it was a specific form of composition. To an extent the
division between the two definitions continues today, in the arguments between the
performers who present ragtime compositions as written, and performers who take
liberties with the printed score. This medley, from 1897, at the beginning of the ragtime
era, presents several popular melodies associated with African American performers and
“rags” them, in the new style.
RAG MEDLEY “The Present Day Fad.” New York: M. Witmark & Sons, 1897.
Folder 154
From the cover text:
Specially Arranged For Piano On The Witmark Popular Publications “Good Old
Wagon,” “Isabelle,” “My Gal Is A High Born Lady,” “Come Back My Honey I’se
Been Waiting,” “Can’t Bring Him Back,” “Mr. Johnson Turn Me Loose” “All
Coons Look Alike To Me.” by Max Hoffman
Although the greatest of the ragtime composers, Scott Joplin, published his own
ragtime instructor, there were several published by commercial publishers, all of them
representing the attitude that ragtime was simply a way of performing simple melodies.
This instructor was first published in 1913, and continually republished. There was still
enough of a ragtime market that this edition was published in 1940, nearly a half century
after the rag medley published in 1897.
WINN’S HOW TO PLAY RAGTIME. New York: 1940. Folder 155
From the cover text:
“Shows how to convert ANY piece of piano music into the most intricate, complex
syncopated rhythm at sight and furnishes a complete course for the highest
technical and artistic performance of Single and Double Ragtime.”
Most of the book consists of exercises, but also included are “Winn’s Rag,” and
ragtime arrangements of “Aloha Oe” and “Old Folks At Home.”
Minstrel Shows continued to be popular until the second World War, when the
blatant racism of the genre could no longer be ignored. The shows remained popular
in England during the post war years, lasting until the early television era. This minstrel
show folio contains songs, instrumental melodies, spoken dialog, and humor. An
amateur minstrel group could simply present the material as it appears in the folio and
they would have a representative show.
Pepper, Harry S. and C. Dernier Warren. KENTUCKY MINSTRELS “The Famous
Radio Show.” London: Francis, Day, and Hunter, Ltd., 1939. Folder 161
This American minstrel show folio includes the songs for an amateur performance,
complete with a series of symbols to indicate when the “bones” and the “tambos”
(tambourines) are to be tapped, rolled, or stopped. It does not include the joke material
of the collection from England. Although much of the material consists of the
sentimental songs that were a staple of minstrel show performances there are also three
songs with a distinctly racist character, including the march “A Coon Will Follow A
Band” by the New York Irish-American musical comedy artists Harrigan and Hart.
Witmark & Sons, 1904. Folder 165
Anthony, Bert R. A WARM RECEPTION “Characteristic March, Two Step, &
Cakewalk.” Fall River, Mass.: G. H. Munroe & Co., 1899. Folder 162
Barney & Seymour. ST. LOUIS TICKLE “Rag Time Two-Step.” Chicago: Victor
Kremer Co., 1904. Folder 100
The introduction and the second strain of the piece incorporate the melody of a
dance piece associated with the first New Orleans jazz musician, Buddy Bolden.
The vaudeville banjo virtuoso Vess Ossman recorded an exciting version of the
piece with his trio shortly after it was published.
Barron, Ted S. (Music) and Leo F. Feist (Words). IF TIME WAS MONEY I’D BE A
MILLIONAIRE. NYC: Leo Feist, 1902. Folder 327
Jerome H. Remick, 1920. Folder 173
Although this is a later song it is in the “coon song” tradition.
Carroll, Harry (Music) and Ballard MacDonald (Words). AT THE DIXIE MILITARY
BALL. NYC: Shapiro and Bernstein & Co., 1918. Folder 324
Cohan, George M. OH, YOU BEAUTIFUL COON. New York: Jerome & Schwartz
Publishing Co., 1911. Folder 159
Edwards, Gus and Tom Daley (Music and Words). ALL I WANT IS MY BLACK
BABY BACK “Coon Song and Chorus.” New York: Howley, Haviland & Co.,
1898. Folder 158
Guy, Harry P. ECHOES FROM THE SNOWBALL CLUB “Rag Time Waltz.” Detroit:
Willard Bryant, 1898. Folder 168
Haack, James. THE RAG-TIME SPORTS “Cakewalk, March and Two Step.”
New York: Gagel Brothers, 1899. Folder 157
Havemeyer, Theo. HAPPPY HANNAH “Cake Walk.” Chicago: McKinley Music Co.,
1898. Folder 169
Johnson, Chas. L. DOC BROWN’S CAKEWALK “The Original Kansas City Rag.”
Kansas City: J. W. Jenkins’ Sons Music, 1899. Folder 160
Kelly, Harry. PEACEFUL HENRY A Slow Drag. Detroit: Whitney, Warner Pub. Co.,
1901. Folder 180
Lampe, J. Bodewalt. CREOLE BELLES. March-Two-Step. Buffalo: The Lampe Music
Co., 1900. Folder 182
“Creole Belles” is a well-constructed, melodic march-rag, which was played and
recorded as a jazz composition by Lu Watter’s Yerba Buena Jazz Band in the
1940s. Although the sheet music pictures several young white women the lyric
which is set to the final chorus describes the woman of the song as “My
dusky baby,” which places the song version in the “coon song” genre.
Lampe, J. Bodewalt. DIXIE GIRL. Detroit: Whitney-Warner Pub. Co., 1903.
Folder 183
McCarron, Chas. And Nat. Vincent (Words and Music). WHEN OLD BILL BAILEY
PLAYS THE UKELELE. NYC:Broadway Music Corporation, 1915. Folder 328
Meakim, Fletcher (Music) and George W. Davids (Words). COONVILLE CULLUD
BAND. New York: M. Witmark & Sons, 1903. Folder 185
Melville, Agnes. THE DARKIES’ DRILL Cake Walk. New York: Avon Music
Company, 1902. Folder 176
Meyer, Geo. W. (Music) and Joe Goodwin (Words). BRASS BAND EPHRAHAM
JONES. NYC: Leo Feist. 1911. Folder 325
Mills, Kerry. AT A GEORGIA CAMP MEETING. “A Characteristic March which can
be used effectively as a Two-Step, Polka or Cake Walk.” New York: F. A. Mills
Music Publisher, 1897. Folder 184
The sheet music introduces the composition with an apology for the inference
that a religious meeting, a “Camp Meeting,” could be the scene of a dance.
“This march was not intended to be a part of the Religious Exercises ”At a
Georgia Campmeeting” - but when the young folks got together they felt as if
they needed some amusement. A Cake Walk was suggested, and held in a quiet
place near by - hence this Music.”
Muir, Lewis F. (Music and Words). CAMP MEETING BAND. NYC: F. A. Mills, 1914.
Folder 326
Muir, Lewis F. (Music) and L. Wolfe Gilbert (Words). MAMMY JINNY’S JUBILEE.
New York: F. A. Mills, 1913. Folder 179
Roberts, Lee S. MAMMY’S LULLABY. Chicago: Forster Music Publisher Inc, 1918.
Folder 164
Rogers, Ed. IF I WAS A BILLIONAIRE. New York: F. A. Mills Music Publisher,
Folder 181
Skidmore, Will E. (Music) and Renton Tunnah (Words). PRAY FOR THE LIGHTS TO
GO OUT “A Negro Shouting Song.” Kansas City: Skidmore Music Co., 1916.
Folder 177
Stone, Fred. S. MA RAGTIME BABY. Detroit: Whitney-Warner Publishing Co., 1898.
Folder 156
Stout, Clarence A. OH DEATH WHERE IS THY STING. New York: Pace& Handy
Music Co. Inc., 1918. Folder 163
Pace & Handy was one of the few African American owned music publishers - one
of the partners was W. C. Handy, composer of “St. Louis Blues” - but the
company also published “coon” songs, in this instance a song that was
successfully recorded by the black vaudevillian Bert Williams.
Whiting, Richard A. (Music) and Raymond Egan (Words). MAMMY’S LITTLE COAL
BLACK ROSE. New York: Jerome H. Remick, 1916. Folder 178
Whiting, Richard A. (Music) and Raymond Egan (Words). THEY MADE IT TWICE
H. Remick, 1916. Folder 318
II C3. Williams and Walker
Bert Williams and George Walker were the first African American musical
comedy artists to achieve a major success on the American stage. For several years they
led their own theater company, staging loosely plotted extravaganzas that featured the
“slow darky” character of Williams and the “uptown dude” character of Walker. The
shows were skillfully produced and in 1903 they finally were able to achieve their goal of
appearing on Broadway in one of the own productions, the musical In Dahomey.
Tragically, at the height of their fame, Walker succumbed to the effects of tertiary
syphilis. Williams struggled to carry on the company, but Walker had always handled
much of the partners’ business matters, and soon Williams was hired away by Flo
Ziegfeld to appear in the successful “Follies” that Ziegfeld presented yearly in New
York. Williams was the first black performer to appear on the popular stage with white
artists, and he worked with Ziegfeld stars as diverse as Eddie Cantor, W. C. Fields,
Marian Harris, and Fanny Brice.
Williams had already begun his recording career in 1901, when he recorded duets
with Walker and several of his solo songs, and during his years with the Follies he
continued to record steadily. At the time of his death from pneumonia in 1922, when he
collapsed on stage while he was touring with a new musical that featured his comic
character and his singing, he was one of America’s largest selling comedy vocalists. He
left behind him a legacy of songs and recordings, as well as appearances in several short
films. In his early years he struggled against the persistent racial stereotyping of the
stage, and for some time he and Walker billed themselves as “The Two Real Coons,” as
an oblique protest against the flood of white artists working in blackface and presenting
themselves as coon stereotypes. He was finally forced to wear blackface to appear on
stage, and some of the recordings and the films are examples of the kind of racial
denigration Williams detested.
A number of the songs for the Williams and Walker shows were written by African
American composers, among them Alex Rogers and Ernest Hogan, who also were forced
by their audiences to adopt the “coon” song stereotypes.
A Rare Newspaper Musical Supplement
In the summer of 1898 Williams and Walker created a “Special Pose” for a musical
supplement distributed with the issue of the New York Journal and Advertiser on August
7, 1898. Williams is posed as a ragged bridegroom, with Walker’s wife, Ada Overton
Walker, as his bride, and Walker is in a white wig and spectacles as the minister
performing the ceremony. The supplement was printed on poor quality paper that did not
survive as well as the published sheet music of the time. The song is by Dan Packard,
one of the hack “coon” song composers of the time.
New York: Myll Brothers, 1898. Musical Supplement of the New York Journal
and Advertiser, August 7, 1898. Folder 212
Accooe, Will (Music) and Ernest Hogan (Words). THE PHRENOLOGIST COON.
New Song Hits Introduced by Williams and Walker’s Own Big Co.” “Sung by
the Great Comedian Bert. Williams.” New York: Jos. W. Stern & Co., 1901.
Folder 172
Creamer and Layton (Words and Music). “The Instantaneous Hit Sung by BERT
WILLIAMS Zeigfield Follies 1917-18”. EVERYBODY’S CRAZY ‘BOUT THE
DOGGONE BLUES BUT I’M HAPPY. NYC: Broadway Music Corporation,
1917. Folder 329
Muir, Lewis F. (Music) and Wm. Tracey (Words). PLAY THAT BARBERSHOP
CHORD. “Prominently Featured by Bert Williams.” New York: J. Fred Helf
Company, 1910. Folder 166
Rogers, Alex. I’M A JONAH MAN. “Williams and Walker’s Crowning Success.”
New York: M. Witmark & Sons, 1903. Folder 170
The back cover reproduces the first pages of “Six Coon Songs that are the Rage
of the Country,” including “I Want To Play Hamlet,” with the first lines,
I want to play Hamlet, An’ do de straight legit.
“To be or not to be,” Mah voice will fit. . .
Smith & Bowman (Music) and R. C. McPherson (Words). GOOD MORNING CARRIE!
“Introduced and Featured by the Two Real Coons, Williams & Walker.” “The
Stars Know This Is A Good Song.” Chicago: Windsor Music Co., 1901.
Folder 174
Williams, Bert A. (Music and Words). DORA DEAN “The Sweetest Gal You Ever
Seen” “The Greatest Coon Song Ever Written!” San Francisco, Broder & Schlam,
1895-6. Folder 167
Williams, Bert (Music) and Vincent Bryan (Words). YOU’RE GWINE TO GET
SOMETHING WHAT YOU DON’T EXPECT. “The Hit of Flo Ziegfeld’s Follies
of 1910.” “Written and Featured by Bert Williams.” New York: Leo Feist
Publisher, 1910. Folder 171
Williams, Bert A. (Music) and John B. Lowitz (Words). I’D RATHER HAVE
from Williams & Walker’s Musical Comedy Success Bandana Land.” New York:
The Gotham-Attucks Music Company, 1908. Folder 219
The back cover reproduces the covers and first pages of two other Williams &
Walker successes, “Nobody” and “When The Moon Shines.”
Williams Song Folio
Corporation, nd, probably the late 1930s. Folder 175
The album contains the following songs:
Nobody, Medicine Man, He’s A Cousin of Mine, It’s Nobody But My Own, Why
Don’t You Get A Lady Of Your Own, I May Be Crazy (But I Ain’t No Fool),
When It’s All Goin’ Out And Nothin’ Comin’ In, Pray For The Lights To Go Out,
Fortune Telling Man, I Don’t Like No Cheap Man
A Bert Williams Autographed Portrait
A rare 16mm Silent Film Short Feature from 1916
A recent biography and a collection of historical recordings
Ann Charters’ first book was her pioneering biography of Bert Williams in 1970,
and she has had a continuing interest in Williams and the elusive aspects of his
complicated life and career. This signed photograph was probably taken about 1910, and
it depicts Williams at the moment when he was achieving his first real success. There is
no way to determine who was “the Pie Face” or what it is that Williams regrets, which is
typical of our knowledge of his carefully guarded personal life. The photograph was
acquired by Charters at the auction of Printed & Manuscript African-Americana held at
the Swann Galleries, New York City, and February 21, 2008.
Williams made the two-reel comedy A Natural Born Gambler in 1916. The film
was a crudely performed comedy depicting a chaotic poker game, but it has as a virtue
one of William’s best-known stage portrayals, that of a man playing an imaginary poker
hand by himself, his expression mimicking the man’s excited anticipations and the
ultimate dashing of his hopes. In the gambling scenes that open the story Williams is the
only character wearing blackface, though the rest of the cast is African-American.
Williams’ performance in this part of the story is unfortunately typical in its dependence
on racial stereotypes, which emphasizes the uneasy compromises that were forced upon
him as an isolated black entertainer in a white world. The film received a mixed review
in the contemporary journal Moving Picture World.
That celebrated poker game which Bert Williams has so often played in
pantomime on the spoken stage, is the inspiration of this two-reel comedy. The
characters are all colored persons of the male sex ad they are all addicted to
gambling. Williams attempts to annex the roll of a swell sport from the city, but
the game is raided, and when last seen, the natural born gambler is sadly dealing
out imaginary hands behind bars of a prison. The business of some of the scenes
could be improved, but Bert Williams’ skill at pantomime shows up well on the
screen. (quoted in Introducing Bert Williams, p. 267)
This 16 mm print of the complete comedy was available for a short time through
commercial sources in the early 1960s, and the present copy was supplied to Ann
Charters through an advertising agency that was offering it to potential television
producers. Dodd 2000-0105.mp1
Camille F. Forbes’s excellent new biography, Introducing Bert Williams, is the
first since the 1970 biography, and it draws on a wide range of newly discovered
materials. It describes in absorbing detail the struggles of Williams and his partner
George Walker to bring African American musical theater to Broadway audiences for the
first time. It also presents a compelling portrait of the complexities of the racial situation
that Williams faced in the America of that era and his own complicated efforts to deal
with it.
Forbes, Camille F. Introducing Bert Williams: Burnt Cork, Broadway, and the Story of
America’s First Black Star. New York: Basic Civitas, 2008 Dodd C 10145
Williams was a prolific recording artist, and many of his Columbia singles
became popular staples for home entertainment. This selection from his releases includes
material recorded between 1910 and 1920. Occasionally it was necessary for him to
return to the studio to re-record his best known songs when the metal stampers used to
produce the discs became too worn for further use, and the versions generally differed.
An example of this are the versions he recorded at different times of his signature song,
his own composition “Nobody.”
The copy of “Nobody” in the archive is the family copy which Samuel Charters
found in the record cabinet in his family’s home in Pittsburgh in the 1930s. It has been
much played, and it has the common rim-chip which was caused by the clumsy
mechanism of early automatic record changers. His mother, as well as all of her brothers
and sisters, knew the song well enough to sing along with the recording.
Columbia Records A1289 Nobody/My Landlady. Dodd SE 2
Although for the majority of Williams’ recordings he presented himself in his
“darky” impersonation, for a number of songs he sang without dialect, though never
losing his warmth and sympathetic personality. “My Landlady” is one of his lesser
known recordings, but it presents the tale of any traveling performer - a familiar
“everyman“ - who is having trouble coming up with the rent. His performance is a
classic comic monologue with appropriate orchestral accompaniment.
This group of singles was gathered over a period of more than twenty years, and
they were used for the LP reissue on Folkways Records. The LP is a collaboration
between Ann and Samuel Charters. He produced the album for the Folkways RBF
(“Record, Book, and Film”) Series and a selection from Ann’s biography was used for
the album notes.
Columbia Records A303 He’s Just a Cousin of Mine/(Irish Comedy Song) Dodd SE 3
Columbia Records A915 I’ll Lend You Anything/Constantly Dodd SE 4
Columbia Records A1504 You Can’t Get Away from It/The Darktown Poker Club
Dodd SE 5
Columbia Records A1817
Columbia Records A2438
Columbia Records A2652
Columbia Records A2710
I’m Neutral/Indoor Sports Dodd SE 6
No Place Like Home/Twenty Years Dodd SE 7
O Death Where Is Thy Sting/When I Return Dodd SE 8
Oh! Lawdy (Something’s Done Got Between Ebecaneezer
and Me)/Bring Back Those Wonderful Days Dodd SE 9
Columbia Records A2750 Everybody Wants A Key To My Cellar/It’s Nobody’s
Business But My Own Dodd SE 10
Columbia Records A2849 The Moon Shines On The Moonshine/Somebody Dodd SE 11
Columbia Records A2877 I’m Sorry I Ain’t Got It You Could Have It If I Had It
Blues/Checkers Dodd SE 12
Columbia Records A2979 Lonesome Alimony Blues/Save A Little Dram For Me
Dodd SE 13
Columbia Records A2941 Ten Little Bottles/Unlucky Blues Dodd SE 14
Columbia Records A3305 Get Up/I Want To Know Where Tosti Went (When He Said
Goodbye) Dodd SE 15
Columbia Records A3356 My Last Dollar/I’m Gonna Quit Saturday Dodd SE 16
Folkways Records RBF 602. Nobody: and other songs by Bert Williams (1981).
Dodd LP 1160 and LP 376
Titles: Nobody, Somebody, Ten Little Bottles, Oh Death Where Is Thy Sting?,
I’m Neutral, I’m Gonna Quit Saturday, Bring Back Those Wonderful Days, You
Can’t Get Away From It, I Want To Know Where Tosti Went, Twenty Years,
He’s a Cousin of Mine, The Moon Shines On The Moon Shine, My Last Dollar,
Unlucky Blues.
Bert Williams: Son of Laughter. A partial photostat reproduction of text, missing
is the foreword by Mabel Rowland, the Preface by David Belasco and pages 102-143.
The dust jacket is reproduced in color. This is a rare volume published in New York City
by The English Crafters in 1923. Dodd II.C.3.
Mable Rowland, a friend and associate of Williams, published this biography and
gathering of tributes to Bert Williams a few months after Williams’ death.. The book
was lovingly produced with reproductions of photographs and drawings of the
entertainer, and theatrical playbills of his appearances. Among those who contributed a
tribute were theater personalities George M. Cohan, David Belasco, W. C. Fields, and
writers Heywood Broun and Ring Lardner. W. E. B. Dubois wrote in part:
For this was not mere laughing: it was the smile that hovered above blood
and tragedy; the light mask of happiness that hid breaking hearts and bitter
souls. This is the top of bravery; the finest thing in service. May the world
long honor the undying fame of Bert Williams as a great comedian, a great
negro, a great man.
Freuh, Albert (the name is pronounced “Free”): A framed lithograph print, 12” x 8” of
Freuh’s signature drawing from about 1918 of Williams from his years as a star of
the Ziegfield Follies. This was from a limited contemporary edition of
lithographs presenting images of drawings Freuh did of other theatrical
personalities. Dodd II.C.3.
A copy of NOBODY : The Story of Bert Williams, by Ann Charters, published in 1970, is
in the Archive collection. Dodd C 5567
II C4. Classic Ragtime
During the ragtime era the music of Scott Joplin. James Scott, Joseph Lamp, and
others associated with them, was considered to be the beginning of a unique musical
style. Their ragtime compositions were more complex, more serious, and more ambitious
than the hundreds of hastily composed and poorly conceived commercial pieces that
followed their success. The idiom they created was a new musical form, based on
African American musical elements, and they considered themselves “serious”
composers. As is well known Joplin spent his last years futilely struggling to find a
producer for his serious “folk” opera Treemonisha. The strongest supporter of their
music was an opinionated, self-willed, and articulate St. Louis publisher named John
Stark, who had published Joplin’s first major success, “Maple Leaf Rag.” Stark
considered their music to be a new creation, and his support for his composers was
unwavering, even as their beautifully crafted, complex rags were almost drowned in a sea
of superficial imitations. Without him ragtime would not have had a solid core of firstrate compositions, and we wouldn’t have the music which is now accepted as a vital
element of the American musical tradition. He often utilized the back covers of his
publications to present his own feelings about the music, and Stark is perhaps the best
person to describe by what he meant by “classic ragtime.”
Here is the foundation of all ragtime. These are the classics that lined up
ragtime with the Masters of all time. Here is the genius whose spirit, - though diluted
and polluted - was filtered through thousands of cheap songs and vain imitations which
have done much harm to the reputation of real classic ragtime.
These numbers are the American Creation and are the marvel of musicians
all civilized countries.
They are NOT NEW and they NEVER will be OLD. The oftener they are heard
the better they are liked.
On the back of other pieces Stark listed his catalog of sheet music, which included
many of important composers of classic ragtime, among them Joplin, James Scott, Joseph
Lamb, Arthur Marshall, Paul Pratt, and Artie Matthews. As an introduction to the list
Stark wrote,
Creme de la Creme
Additional and later rags. Every one a jewel. There is nothing like this list on
Earth, or anywhere else. Just shut your eyes and grab, you can’t miss a prize.
Although Joplin, his most successful composer, moved on to other publishers,
Stark continued to publish the best of the new style. Many of the pieces he published
were too difficult for the amateur pianists who were the biggest part of his audience, but
he stubbornly presented brilliant compositions by James Scott and Joseph Lamb long
after the ragtime craze ended. The company didn’t survive the changes of the nation’s
tastes, and it was sold in 1930, but the music was still available through reprints by
subsequent publishers. The rediscovery of classic ragtime in the 1940s and 1950s was a
vindication of Stark’s foresight.
Scott Joplin was considered to be the “King” of ragtime composers, and his
“Maple Leaf Rag” was the first widespread hit of the ragtime era. He composed not only
ragtime, but syncopated waltzes, marches, songs, a ragtime instructor manual, and two
operas. He paid for the publication of the piano and vocal score of his second opera,
Treemonisha, and it has had considerable success on the opera stage, three quarters of a
century after he died in despair of ever hearing it performed. Joplin is one of the lyric
geniuses of American music, and his compositions have finally assumed their place in the
modern musical vocabulary.
The New Orleans jazz historian William Russell visited the Stark family in St.
Louis during the 1940s, and he acquired much of their remaining inventory of sheet
music. When he opened a small shop in New Orleans in the 1950s he sold off his stock
to serious collectors. He charged the original price, as printed on the sheet music. If
there was a circled “5,” that meant five nickels, and he charged 25 cents. Several of the
Stark titles were purchased from Russell, and they were in new condition.
THE EASY WINNERS. A Rag Time Two Step. St. Louis, Stark Music Company, 1901.
A large format, later printing with newer catalog listings. Folder 101
Stark’s descriptions of his rags with the catalog listings on the back page of this
publication reach new levels of hyperbole, and he concludes with a citation from a
correspondent. “Mr. J. V. Malling of orchestral fame in Sydney, Australia writes
that these rags as compared to others that he has to inflict on the public are like an
oasis in a dreary desert of piffle.”
ELITE SYNCOPATIONS. St. Louis, John Stark & Son, 1902. Folder 105
There is also a reprint, without cover, from The Ragtime Society. Folder 115
THE ENTERTAINER. A Rag Time Two Step. St. Louis, John Stark & Son, 1902.
Folder 103
This is in a later, reduced format, and the price is given as “50.” The
advertisement on the back quotes a letter from a music director in Shanghai,
China, who is advertising Stark publications. Stark added the comment, “Is
anything further needed to show the world-wide reputation of our classic rags?”
THE FAVORITE. Sedalia, Mo, A. W. Perry’s Sons, 1904. A later reprint from the
original plates. Folder 116
FELICITY RAG. St. Louis, New York, Stark Music Printing and Pub. Co., 1911.
Folder 102
MAPLE LEAF RAG. St. Louis, John Stark & Son, 1899. Folders 96, 112, 117
According to Stark’s personal ledgers “Maple Leaf Rag” sold a half million copies
between 1899 and 1909. An amateurish original cover was replaced by a strong
and commercially effective design using a drawing of a large maple leaf. The
score was reprinted many times using this same art work, but varying the
company’s identification, the Joplin rags listed on the cover, and the type style for
the dedication “To the Maple Leaf Club.” There were also different
advertisements and sections of other rags used inside the front of the cover and on
the back of the sheet music. The archive contains three different examples of
“Maple Leaf Rag,” each of them differing in significant details. Of special
interest is a long discussion of the performance style of Joplin’s music printed
on the back cover of an early variant of the publication.
PALM LEAF RAG. A Slow Drag. Chicago, Victor Kremer Co., 1903. Folder 106
SCOTT JOPLIN’S NEW RAG. New York, Jos. W. Stern & Co, 1912. Folder 113
SOMETHING DOING. St. Louis, Val A. Reis Music Company, 1903. A later reprint
by Mills Music, Inc. as part of its “Standard Piano Solos” series. Folder 109
WEEPING WILLOW. St. Louis, Val A. Reis Music Company, 1903. A later reprint by
Mills Music, Inc, as part of its “Standard Piano Solos” series. Folder 110
With Scott Hayden
SUNFLOWER SLOW DRAG. A Rag Time Two-Step. St. Louis, John Stark & Son,
1901. Folder 108
SUNFLOWER SLOW DRAG. A Rag Time Two-Step. St. Louis, John Stark & Son,
1901. A copy in reduced format from the 1920s. Folder 118 The archive also
includes a reprint copy of this composition published without the cover by The
Ragtime Society. Folder 119
With Arthur Marshall
SWIPSY CAKE WALK. St. Louis, Stark Music Co., 1900. Later reduced format.
Folder 104
Although the piece is described as a cakewalk it is a fresh and inventive ragtime
composition written by Joplin and a young friend, Arthur Marshall, who also
published solo ragtime pieces. To confuse the issue of “cakewalk” or “rag” even
further Stark illustrated the music with a drawing of an elderly, spry white farmer
dancing a country hoedown with a woman young enough to be his daughter.
ANTOINETTE. March and Two-Step. St. Louis, New York, Stark Music Co. 1906.
Folder 107
The back page reprints the opening page of Joplin’s “The Nonpariel” Rag and
Two Step.
AUGUSTAN CLUB. Waltz. St. Louis, Stark Music Co., 1901. Later large size reprint.
Folder 111
The advertisements on the back feature two songs, with the comment “You have
heard, perhaps, that because we have cleaned up the world on classic rags that we
are not in the song field. We will show you.” Among the new compositions listed
is a World War I novelty piece by John Stark himself, titled “All Shot To Pieces
By The French Girls’ Eyes.”
THE ROSE-BUD MARCH. St. Louis, John Stark & Son. 1905. Folder 114
This piece is “Respectfully dedicated to my friend Tom Turpin.”
MARCH MAJESTIC. St. Louis, John Stark & Son. 1902. Folder 240
Of the three most important ragtime composers Joseph Lamb was the only one who
was white. He spent his life working in a textile firm, but he was fascinated by ragtime
when he first heard Joplin’s compositions, and he took his first piece, “Sensation, A Rag”
up to Harlem, to the boarding house owned by Joplin’s wife, and asked Joplin for advice.
Joplin, whom Lamb called “Jop,” sent the piece on to his publisher John Stark, who
added Lamb to his roster of composers. To help introduce Lamb to the public
“Sensation” was published with the notice on the cover that it had been “Arranged” by
Scott Joplin.
Lamb was also younger than either Joplin or James Scott, and following his
retirement he lived quietly in Brooklyn until the 1960s. In the summer of 1959 Ann and I
recorded an LP of Lamb playing his own compositions for Folkways Records, and Lamb
worked with Ann on her interpretations of classic ragtime for the recordings she was
doing during that time. When the recording was completed Lamb presented us with a
nearly complete set of his Stark publications, signing each of them for us.
AMERICAN BEAUTY RAG. A Rag of Class. St. Louis, Stark Music Co., 1913.
Signed copy. Folder 143
BOHEMIA RAG. St. Louis, Stark Music Co., 1919. Signed copy. Folder 144
CHAMPAGNE RAG. St. Louis, Stark Music Co., 1910. Folder 145
Signed copy. Stark’s description of this piece in his standard catalog listing was,
“The greatest brilliency (sic) with the lest (sic) difficulty.
CLEOPATRA RAG. St. Louis, Stark Music Co., 1915. Signed copy. Folder 146
CONTENTMENT RAG. St. Louis, Stark Music Co., 1915. Signed copy.
Folder 147
EXCELSIOR. A Rag. New York, St. Louis, Stark Music Co. Unsigned. Folder 148
Many Stark publications, like this one, list a New York business address. The
printing plant remained in St. Louis. The inside cover reprints
the first page of Lamb’s “Ethiopia Rag,” one of his most difficult, and the back
cover reprints the first page of Bud Manchester’s “Brain-Storm Rag.”
NIGHTINGALE RAG. St. Louis, Stark Music Co., 1915. Signed copy. Folder 149
With its brilliant minor opening melody played in the left hand, and its skillful
shifts from major to minor modes this was one of Lamb’s most popular rags. He
remembered that he was inspired to write it by the success of other rags using
bird’s names for the titles, particularly James Scott’s “Oriole Rag,” which Stark
published in 1911, and by the universally successful piano piece “The
Nightingale,” by Ethelbert Nevin, which Lamb quotes in a transitional passage
between the third and fourth strains of his composition.
PATRICIA RAG. St. Louis, Stark Music Co., 1916. Signed copy. Folder 150
REINDEER. Ragtime Two-Step. St. Louis, Stark Music Co., 1915. Folders 151-152
Two copies, both signed, identical except for different advertising on the back
SENSATION. A Rag. Arranged by Scott Joplin. This is a reprint by The Ragtime
Society of the 1908 publication by Stark Music Co., New York and St. Louis.
Folder 142
THE TOP LINER RAG. St. Louis, Stark Music Co., 1916. Signed copy. Folder 153
These rags left by Lamb in manuscript were published after his death by his
daughter Patrician Lamb Conn.
BROWN DERBY #2. Transcribed and edited by Joseph R. Scotti from an audio tape of
Lamb’s performance recorded by Michael Montgomery. Folder 330
RAGTIME REVERIE. Edited from a Joseph F. Lamb Sketchbook by Joseph R. Scotti.
Folder 331
James Scott is the third of the great composers of classic ragtime. He was eighteen
years younger than Joplin, and only a year older than Lamb. Like Lamb he came to John
Stark’s publishing company through Joplin, who sent Stark Scott’s early composition,
“Frog Legs Rag,” which was one of the most successful rags to follow Joplin’s “Maple
Leaf Rag.” Unlike Joplin Scott continued to be published by Stark until the company
ceased accepting new material in 1922, and Stark demonstrated his appreciation for
Scott’s loyalty in a burst of prose that matched his most enthusiastic efforts.
“Scott is the rag writer of the universe. He has all that Joplin has, with an added
“Since we forced the conviction on this country that what is called rag may
possibly contain more genius and psychic advance thought than a Chopin nocturne or a
Bach fugue, writers of diluted and attenuated imitations have sprung up from Maine’s
frozen hills to the boiling bogs of Louisiana.
“You can get the real thing, however, only from the fountain head. . .”
The archive includes photostatic copies of James Scott’s rags sent to Ann Charters
in the late 1950s by St. Louis composer, pianist, and collector Trebor J. Tichenor. The
titles include Broadway Rag Folder 130, Don’t Jazz Me - Rag (I’m Music) Folder 131,
Modesty Rag Folder 132, Paramount Rag Folder 133, Rag Sentimental Folder 134,
Sunburst Rag Folder 135, and Troubadour Rag Folder 136.
EVERGREEN RAG. St. Louis, Stark Music Co., 1915. Folder 121
FROG LEGS RAG. St. Louis, New York, Stark Music Co., 1906. Folder 97
There is also a reprint, copied without cover from The Ragtime Society.
Folder 123
For “Frog Legs Rag,” in the list of compositions printed on the back of many of
the company’s pieces, Stark wrote, “Now we need adjectives in fifteen degrees
with a rising inflections. We need letters a foot high and a few exclamation points
about the size of Cleopatra’s needle - but we won’t tell you of this piece, we want
to surprise you.”
GRACE AND BEAUTY. A Classy Rag. St. Louis, Stark Music Co., 1909. Folder 98
HONEY MOON RAG. St. Louis, Stark Music Co., 1916. Folder 122
PEGASUS. A Classic Rag. New York, St. Louis, Stark Music Co., 1920. Folder 120
VICTORY RAG. St. Louis, Stark Music Co., 1921. This is in a smaller format.
Folder 127
Also a second copy, printed from the same plates, published in the 1940s by
Melrose Bros. Music Co, a Chicago company that acquired the Stark catalog in
1930. Folder 126
Hampton, Robert. CATARACT RAG. St. Louis, Stark Music Co. 1914. Folder 128
Despite its difficulty - the piece is almost a semi-classical composition - this was
a successful rag for the Stark company. Stark’s note was “Had Hampton
written nothing else he has left ‘footprints on the sands of time.’”
Pratt, Paul. SPRING TIME RAG. St. Louis, John Stark & Son, 1916. Folder 99
Pratt’s very fresh and imaginative composition quotes from Mendelssohn’s
“Spring Song” in the introductory measures. It is interesting to compare it with
Irving Berlin’s use of the same melody in his thin parody “That Mesmerizing
Mendelssohn Tune.”
Turpin, Tom. BOWERY BUCK. Chicago, Will Rossiter, 1899. Folder 129
Between 1897 and 1904 Turpin published five brilliant rags that drew from
folk sources and earlier “characteristic” light classical compositions. Turpin and
his brother Charlie ran saloons, theaters, brothels, and a variety of illegal gambling
operations in the St. Louis red-light district, and Turpin never gave all his attention
to his music, which is unfortunate, because the pieces that were published
are among the finest of the early ragtime compositions, and they were not only
popular as piano solos, but soloists on other instruments performed them on the
vaudeville stage. An exciting version of Turpin’s “The Buffalo Rag” was recorded
in 1905, a year after its publication, by the banjoist Vess L. Ossman.
Turpin, Tom. THE BUFFALO RAG. Folder 137 The archive includes a photostatic
copy of the original sheet music sent to Ann Charters in the late 1950s by St.
Louis composer, musician and collector Trebor J. Tichenor.
Turpin, Tom. HARLEM RAG. Folder 124 This is a reprint from The Ragtime Society
of the 1899 publication by Jos. W. Stern & Co., New York.
Turpin, Tom. THE ST. LOUIS RAG. Instrumental Novelty for Piano. Folder 125
This is a reprint from The Ragtime Society of the 1903 publication by Sol Bloom,
New York.
“Manchester, Bud” BRAIN-STORM RAG. St. Louis, Stark Music Co., 1907.
Folder 138
“Bud Manchester” was the pseudonym of John Stark’s son, E. J. Stark.
Marshall, Arthur. THE PEACH. A Ragtime Two Step. New York, St. Louis, Stark
Music Co., 1908. Folder 139
Mellinger, E. J. CORRUGATED RAG. St. Louis, Stark Music Co., 1911. Folder 140
Robinson, J. R. THE MINSTREL MAN. A Rag. St. Louis, Stark Music Co., 1911.
Folder 141
II C5. Ragtime’s “Second Generation” and Novelty
The popular music industry has always moved quickly to exploit any trend or fad
in the musical taste of its audience, and when it became clear that the ragtime
compositions of the early composers had become part of the musical landscape the
commercial songwriters and publishers hurried to add ragtime pieces to their catalogs.
There was no effort to produce material that would compete with the John Stark catalog.
The general perception was that the Stark rags were difficult to play and they didn’t
follow up on the current novelties in popular taste. The flood of commercial ragtime that
followed the lead of Joplin, Scott, and Lamb, and the other Stark composers did reflect
the current fads and novelties, and this is the style of composition generally called
“novelty ragtime.” Although most of the composers were white, there were also African
American composers of novelty ragtime, as well as women composers. Also, the major
New York music publishers had no monopoly on the production of music of this genre,
and many of the pieces were composed and published by musicians in cities and towns
scattered across the United States. The sheet music that was produced by these local
entrepreneurs often lacked the slick professionalism of the New York companies’ art
work and design, but as a compensation the pieces themselves were sometimes closer to
ragtime’s folk roots.
At the same time that the commercial publishers were exploiting the new craze
there was a “second generation” of ragtime composers. They were younger musicians
who were drawn to ragtime for its new possibilities as a musical genre. Their rags often
have genuine musical value, and clearly demonstrate the melodic freshness and rhythmic
vitality that ragtime introduced to popular musical styles of the period. Although few of
the compositions had the success of a piece like Irving Berlin’s “Alexander’s Ragtime
Band” the overwhelming volume of the published novelty ragtime soon shouldered aside
the more subtle and more difficult classic ragtime. It was not until the ragtime revival,
which began in the 1940s, that the compositions of Stark’s composers were heard again,
and it was another decade before there was a serious effort to recreate the first
performance styles.
Often the published music describes the music as something other than ragtime,
with terms like two-step, march, slow drag, or fox trot, but these pieces have been
grouped with other ragtime compositions because of their musical affinities to the
African American ragtime backgrounds. Many of the pieces of sheet music have a
circled numeral on the cover, usually the number five. This was a retail “code”
indicating the price in nickels. “5” meant five nickels, or twenty-five cents.
Allen, Thos. S. (Words and Music). ANY RAGS. NYC: George M. Krey, 1902.
Folder 332
Armstrong, Harry. THE FRISCO RAG. New York: M. Witmark & Sons, 1904.
Folder 22
Aufderheide, May. DUSTY RAG. Indianapolis: J. H. Aufderheide, 1908. Folder 32
May Aufderheide was one of a number of successful women ragtime composers,
but she is generally considered to be the best of them. Her music is fresh and
inventive, and was particularly popular among musicians. Her “The Thriller! Rag”
was widely played in New Orleans during the early jazz period. The back cover
advertising material reprints the first pages of two of her compositions, “Buzzer
Rag” and “The Thriller.” Her music was published by her father’s company, and
among his other composers was the fine ragtime writer Paul Pratt.
Barron, Ted S. THE ORIGINAL BLUES “A Real Southern Rag.” New York:
Metropolis Music Co., 1914. Folder 57
Belding, Harry. GOOD GRAVY RAG. St Louis: Buck & Lowney, 1913. Folder 54
Belding, Harry. APPLE SASS. St. Louis, Buck & Lowney, 1914. Folder 75
Bennet, Theron C. CHILLS AND FEVER RAG. Cleveland: Sam Fox Pub. Co., 1912.
Folder 9a
The back cover reproduces the first page and the cover of “Harmony Rag” by Hal
G. Nichols.
Berlin, Irving (Music and Words). ALEXANDER’S RAGTIME BAND. New York:
Snyder Co., 1911. Folder 25
The back cover reproduces the first page of “That Peculiar Rag” By F. M. Fagan.
Berlin, Irving (Music and Words). HE’S A RAG PICKER. NYC: Waterson, Berlin, &
Snyder Music Publishers. Folder 334
Berlin, Irving (Music and Words). THAT INTERNATIONAL RAG. New York:
Waterson, Berlin, & Snyder Co., 1913. Folder 68
Berlin, Irving (Music and Words). THAT MESMERIZING MENDELSSOHN TUNE.
New York: Ted Snyder Co., 1909. Folder 52
The chorus of the composition is a ragtime version of the opening phrase of Felix
Mendelssohn’s well known “Spring Song.” Berlin’s words to Mendelssohn’s
melody are “Love me to that ever lovin’ Spring Song melody . .”
The reverse of the cover reproduces the first page of Berlin’s “Yiddle, On Your
Fiddle, Play Some Ragtime.”
Berlin, Irving (Music and Words). THE RAGTIME VIOLIN. New York: Ted Snyder
Co., 1911. Folder 53
Berlin, Irving and Ted Snyder (Music and Words). THAT BEAUTIFUL RAG. New
York: Ted Snyder Co., 1910. Folder 55
The cover is illustrated with a photo of a very young Irving Berlin.
Berlin, Irving and Ted Snyder (Music and Words). THAT MYSTERIOUS RAG. New
York, 1911. Folder 56
Berlin, Irving. (Music and Words) THE RAGTIME SOLDIER MAN. New York: Ted
Snyder Co, 1912. Folder 63
Bernard, Mike (Music) and Willie Weston (Words). THE PANAMA PACIFIC RAG.
New York: Chas. K. Harris, 1911. Folder 21
Bernard was later the winner of a national ragtime piano contest and was often
called “The King Of Ragtime.”
“Bestor & Roberts” (Music) and Roger Lewis (Words). RAGGY MILITARY TUNE.
Chicago: Forster Music Publisher, 1912. Folder 33
Back cover advertising material reproduces the first page of Raymond Birch’s
“Tar Babies Rag.”
Bimberg, Ed (Music) and Nat Vincent (Words). THAT RAILROAD RAG. New York:
Head Music Pub. Co. 1911. Folder 7
Binner, Herbert (Music) and Geo. A. Little (Words.) JERUSALEM RAG. Chicago:
Betts & Binner, 1912. Folder 51
Birch, Raymond. MELODY RAG. Chicago: Forster, Music Publisher, 1911. Folder 239
Although Birch is credited with the composition on the printed musical score, the
cover of the publication reads “Arranged by Chas. L. Johnson.” Johnson’s “Dill
Pickles” had been very successful five years earlier and he was much better known
than Birch at the time. The custom of attaching the name of a better known
composer as an “arranger” to a new piece was used occasionally by publishers to
attract attention to a new writer. It was for this same reason that Stark published
Joseph Lamb’s first piece, “Sensation Rag” as “Edited by Scott Joplin.”
The back sheet of the score prints the first page of “Tar Babies,”another Birch Rag.
Birch, Raymond. MELODY RAG. Chicago: Forster Music Publisher Inc. nd. Folder 80
This is a reprint, probably from the 1920s. It is one of a series published under the
heading “World Famous Rags.”
Birch, Raymond. POWDER RAG. Chicago: Harold Rossiter Music Company, 1908.
Folder 87
Botsford, George. THE GRIZZLY BEAR RAG. New York: Ted Snyder Co., 1910.
Folder 8
The back cover reproduces the cover and the first page of Irving Berlin’s “Dat
Draggy Rag.”
Botsford, George. HYACINTH RAG. New York: Jerome H. Remick & Co., 1911.
Folder 37
The back cover reproduces the cover and first page of Botsford’s “Chatterbox
Botsford, George. RAG, BABY MINE. New York: Jerome H. Remick & Co., 1913.
Folder 27
Browne, Ted. THAT RAG. St. Louis: Thiebes-Stierlin Music Co., 1907. Folder 81
The final strain of the rag is titled “Chicago Slow Drag.”
Camp, Warren. THE RAG WITH NO NAME. Seattle: J. H. Camp Jr. 1911. Folder 15
Claypoole, Ed. B. RAGGING THE SCALE. New York: Broadway Music Corporation,
1915. Folder 60
Cobb, George L. RUSSIAN RAG. Interpolating the World Famous “Prelude” by
Rachmaninoff. Chicago: Will Rossiter, 1918. Folder 12
Cobb, George L. THE NEW RUSSIAN RAG. Interpolating the World Famous
Prelude in C# minor by Rachmaninoff. Chicago: Will Rossiter, 1923. Folder 11
“The New Russian Rag” is a significantly improved version of Cobb’s earlier
piece, and may reflect protests from Rachmaninoff’s publishers. The earlier cover
photos of the dancer Mlle. Rhea have been replaced with photos of Rachmaninoff
and Cobb. The melody is again taken the original prelude, but the “ragging” is
much more subtly done, and the instruction on the music now reads, “With
respect.” On the inside of the back cover the new version is advertised as a
“Professional” piano solo and described as, “An elaborate edition with more
‘Prelude’ and all the up-to-the-minute tricks of ‘modern’ harmony.” The
instruction for the final section is “With utter abandon,” and the scoring is for a
level of virtuosity that would be well beyond the capabilities of the average parlor
SONGS. H&C. nd. Folder 243
Dabney, Ford. T. THE GEORGIA GRIND. New York: Jos.Stern & Co., 1915. Folder 4
Daly, Jos. M. PITTER-PATTER RAG. Boston: Daly Music Publisher, 1910. Folder 41
Day, Ella Hudson. QUALITY RAG. Dallas: J. P. Nuckolls, 1909. Folder 76
Desdunes, Dan. HAPPY FEELING RAG. Omaha: Mickey Music Co. 1912.
Folder 38
The back cover reproduces the cover and the first page of “Kinky Head, Rag-Time
Two-Step” by Geo. E. Rausch.
Erdman, Ernie (Music) and Roger Lewis (Words). WHEN THE BAND PLAYS
RAGTIME AT THE ZOO. Chicago: Will Rossiter, 1912. Folder 31
Ferguson, Harry (Music) and Brady and Mahoney (Words). THE BURGLAR RAG.
NYC: F. B. Haviland Publishing Co. 1912. Folder 333
Fischler, H. A. NIGGER-TOE RAG. Williamsport, PA: Vandersloot Music Pub. Co.,
1910. Folder 29
Fischler, H. A. WEEPING WILLOW RAG. Williamsport, PA: Vandersloot Music
Pub. Co., 1911. Folder 49
Fishler, Max. E. ZU ZU RAG. Philadelphia: The John Franklin Music Co., 1916.
Folder 46
Giblin, Irene H. THE AVIATOR RAG. New York: Jerome H. Remick & Co., 1910.
Folder 50
Godfrey, Floyd D. THE DISH RAG. Peoria, IL: Chas C. Adams & Co, 1909. Folder 36
Goldman, Maxwell. DAY DREAMS “Syncopated Waltz.” St. Louis: Buck & Lowney,
1912. Folder 73
The reverse of the cover page reprints the first page of Raymond Birch’s “Good
Gravy Rag.”
Goldstein, Nat (Music) and Harrison Green (Words). RIZZY BOO The Latest Rag
Creation. San Francisco: Nat Goldstein, 1913. Folder 42
Gompers, Sam. ROLLER SKATE RAG. New Orleans, G.S. Gompers and Son, 1906.
Folder 242
Hanshaw, Laverne. NIAGARA RAG. Dallas: Bush and Gerts, 1914. Folder 10
The reverse of the front cover reproduces the first page of “Nigger Blues” by
Leroy (Lasses) White, and the back cover advertising material includes a
reproduction of the first page of “Majestic Rag” by Ben Rawls and Royal Neel.
Heath, Don and Ed. Flanagan (Words and Music). RAG, RAG, RAG. New York: Tell
Taylor, 1912. Folder 13
Heltman, Fred. DAISY RAG. Cleveland: Sam Fox Publishing Co., 1908. Folder 82
Herzer, Wallie. EVERYBODY TWO STEP (RAG). New York. Jerome H. Remick &
Co., 1911. Folder 30
The back cover advertising material reproduces the first page of Geoege Botsford’s
“Hyacinth Rag.”
Herzer, Wallie. LET’S DANCE. New York: Jerome H. Remick & Co., 1913. Folder 39
The first page of Herzer’s “Tickle The Ivories” is reproduced on the reverse of the
front cover.
Herzer, Wallie. (Arranged by Eugene Brown). THE RAH-RAH BOY “Ragtime
Twostep and Barn Dance.” San Francisco: Herzer & Brown, 1908. Folder 65
Although this was not published by a major firm it has one of the most striking
covers of any of the novelty rags. The term “rah-rah boy” refers to college boys of
the period, and the cover illustration is a satirical depiction of a typical male
college student, with the class of ‘09 indicated on his pipe and sweater.
Holzman, Abe. UNCLE SAMMY. An instrumental ragtime march – two step. NYC:
Leo Feis, 1904. Folder 335
Hunter, William. THE COLLEGE RAG. New York: Herald Sq. Music Pub. Co., 1910.
Folder 3
Johnson, Charles L. CRAZY BONE RAG. Chicago: Forster Music Publisher Inc, 1913.
Folder 78
This is a reprint, probably from the 1920s. It is one of a series published under the
heading “World Famous Rags.”
Johnson, Charles L. DILL PICKLES “A New Rag.” Detroit: Jerome H. Remick &
Company, 1906. Folder 83
Johnson, Charles L. TEASING THE CAT. Chicago: Forster Music Publisher Inc. 1916.
Folder 79
This is a reprint, probably from the 1920s. It is one of a series published under the
heading “World Famous Rags.”
Jordan, Joe. NAPPY LEE, A Slow Drag. Chicago: Arnett-Delonais Co. 1905.
Folder 16
The back cover advertising material reproduces the first page of “Freckles Rag”
by Larry Buck, and “Trixy, Two-Step” by Libbie Erickson.
Keithley, Frank C. FLUFFY RUFFLES “A Slow Drag.” Chicago: The Monroe
Publishing Co., 1908. Folder 64
Kendall, Edwin F. RIGAMAROLE RAG. New York: Jerome H. Remick & Co.,
1910. Folder 45
The back cover reproduces the cover and first page of George Botsford’s
“Chatterbox Rag.”
Kuhn, Ed. PICKLED BEETS RAG. Kansas City: J. W. Jenkins, 1909. Folder 5
The back cover reproduces the first page of Euday L. Bowman’s “Kansas City
Le Boy, Grace (Music) and Gus Kahn (Words). EVERYBODY RAG WITH ME.
New York: Jerome H. Remick & Co., 1914. Folder 28
Lincoln, Harry J. POVERTY RAG. Williamsport, PA: Vandersloot Music Pub. Co.
1909. Folder 61
Livernash, Will L. THE GEORGIA GIGGLE RAG. Kansas City: Will L. Livernash,
1918. Folder 6
The back cover advertising material reproduces excerpts from two compositions
by James Scott, the rag “Dixie Dimples” and “The Springtime Of Love, Valse.”
There is also an excerpt from the excellent “Sleepy Hollow Rag” by
Clarence Woods, with the note that “when you master ‘Sleepy Hollow Rag’
and have it ‘down pat,’ YOU are going ‘over the top’ as a ‘Jazz Rag’ pianist.
This is an early use of the word “Jazz,” which had been introduced only a few
months earlier, with the initial spelling “jass.”
Lodge, Henry. TEMPTATION RAG. New York: M. Witmark & Sons, 1909. Folder 89
Lodge, Henry. TOKIO RAG. New York: M. Witmark & Sons, 1912. Folder 24
The reverse of the front cover reproduces the first page of Lodge’s “Red Pepper A Spicy Rag,” and the back cover reproduces the first page of Harry Armstrong’s
“The Frisco Rag,” with the heading, “One of the best Rags ever Written.”
McCargar, Emery (Music) and “Hank” G. Young (Words). PLAY THAT ALOHA
Los Angeles, Southern California Music Co., 1911. Folder 23
Marzian, Al. ANGEL FOOD RAG. Chicago: Forster Music Publishers, 1911. Folder 34
The back cover advertisements reproduce the first page from Raymond Birch’s
“Melody Rag.”
Morrison & Crabb. TROUBLE RAG. Indianapolis: W. B. Morrison, 1909. Folder 70
This is incomplete. Only the first page is present, including the first two strains
and part of the third strain of the composition.
Morse, Theodore (Music) and D. A. Esrom (Words). “ANOTHER” RAG (A Raggy
Rag). New York: Theodore Morse Music Co. 1911. Folder 14
The advertising material on the reverse of the front cover reproduces the first page
of “That Good Old Irish Rag, An Irish Ragtime ‘Come-all-ye’” by Theodore Morse
and Jack Mahoney.
Morse, Theodore (Music) and D. A. Esrom (Words). WHEN UNCLE JOE PLAYS A
RAG ON HIS OLD BANJO. New York: Theodore Morse Music Co., 1912.
Folder 43
Nichols, Hal. G. HARMONY RAG TWO STEP. Cleveland: Sam Fox Publishing Co.,
1911. Folder 77
Niebergall, Julia Lee. HORSE SHOE RAG. Indianapolis: J. H. Aufderheide & Co.,
1911. Folder 40
Another mid-west woman composer published by the father of May Aufderheide.
The inside cover reproduces the first page of Auderheide’s “Dusty Rag,” and two
rags by Paul Pratt, “Colonial Glide” and “Vanity.” The back cover reproduces the
first page of Aufderheide’s “A Totally Different Rag.”
Northrup, Jos. C. (Arr. by Thos. R. Confare). THE CANNONBALL. Chicago:
Harold Rossiter Music Company, 1905. Folder 17
The back cover advertising material reproduces the first page of Raymond Birch’s
“Powder Rag,”
Norton, George A. THE BLACK HAND RAG. Denver: Norton & Maynard, 1910.
Folder 71
This piece is “Respectfully Dedicated to Mike Bernard ‘The Rag-Time King’”
The music is complete, but lacks the front and back cover.
Oleman, Abe. RED ONION RAG. New York: Geo. Meyer Music Co., 1912. Folder 48
Oleman, Abe. TANGO RAG. Philadelphia: The Jos. Morris Co., 1914. Folder 44
C. Polla Company, 1904. Folder 69
Pryor, Arthur. RAZZAZZA MAZZAZZA. New York: Carl Fischer, 1906. Folder 59
Pryor was one of the most successful band leaders of the time and the cover
includes a series of photographs of him conducting with his baton. Although
much of his composition is closer in style to his band’s music than to ragtime,
he ends it with a 16 bar coda marked fff, with the description “slow and broad,”
and the coda is written in a rowdy ragtime style.
Roberts, Jay. THE ENTERTAINER’S RAG. Chicago: Forster Music Publisher, 1912.
Folder 18
Schmitt, F. C. JOLLY MOLLY. New Orleans, Cable Piano Co., 1910. Folder 74
Seymour, C. PANAMA RAG. Chicago: The Albright Music Co., 1904. Folder 20
This is sometimes credited as the source of the New Orleans jazz standard
“Panama,” but it is a different composition.
Shepherd, Adaline. PICKLES AND PEPPERS “A Rag Oddity.” Milwaukee: Joseph
Flanner, 1906. Folder 67
Thompson, Rufus J. BLUE NOTE RAG. Atlanta: Rufus J. Johnson, 1920. Folder 86
This copy is signed, with a dedication, by the composer.
Van Alstyne, Egbert (Music) and Edward Madden (Words). THE HOLD UP RAG.
New York: Jerome H. Remick & Co., 1912. Folder 47
Van Alstyne, Egbert (Music) and Harry Williams (Words). THE HONOLULU RAG.
New York: Jerome H. Remick & Co. 1910. Folder 84
Von Tilzer, Albert (Music) and Harry Porter (Words). THAT COLLEGE RAG. New
York: The York Music Co. 1911. Folder 19
Von Tilzer, Albert (Music) and Lew Brown (Words). THAT HYPNOTIZING MAN “A
Mesmerizing Rag.” New York: The York Music Co. Folder 26
Wenrich, Percy. ASHY AFRICA “An African Rag.” Chicago: Buck & Carney, 1903.
Folder 88
Wenrich, Percy (Music) and Ben Deely (Words). ALAMO RAG. New York: Jerome H.
Remick & Co. 1910. Folder 85
Wenrich, Percy (Music) and Edward Madden (Words). RAGTIME CHIMES. New
York: Jerome H. Remick & Co. 1912. Folder 72
The advertising material on the back cover reprints the first page of Wenrich’s
classic, “Moonlight Bay.”
Wenrich, Percy (Music) and Edward Madden (Words). THE SKELETON RAG.
New York: Jerome H. Remick & Co., 1911. Folder 58
Wiley, Clarence C. CARBALICK ACID RAG. New York: Jerome H. Remick & Co.,
1904. Folder 9b
The back cover includes reproductions of the first pages and the covers of “The
Gravel Rag” by Charlotte Blake and “The Bolo Rag” by Albert Gumble.
“Williams and Donovin” (Music and Words). CAN SHE RAG! Seattle: Panama Pacific
Publishing Co, 1913. Folder 35
Young, Geo. Oscar (Music) Vernon Dent (Words). RHYTHMATIC DRAG. San
Francisco: Pacific Coast Motion Picture Co., Inc. 1912. Folder 62
The music credits H. A. Montgomery as arranger. The back of the cover reprints
the first page of Young’s “‘1915’ Rag.”
“Young, Ruby, Glogau. Words and Music.” THAT DRAMATIC RAG. New York: Leo.
Feist, 1912. Folder 66
ALBUM OF RAGS “Original Arrangements Selected by Winifred Atwell.” London:
Francis, Day& Hunter, Ltd. 1952. Folder 1
Includes: “Jubilee Rag,” Winifred Atwell; “Blue Goose Rag,” Raymond Birch;
“Dynamite Rag,” J. Russel Robinson; “Smash-Up Rag,” Gwendolyn Stevenson;
“That Fussy Rag,” Victor H. Smalley; “That Lovin’ Rag,” Bernard Adler.
“GEMS OF TEXAS RAGTIME” Edited by Richard Zimmerman. Grass Valley, CA: The
American Ragtime Company, 1996. Folder 250
As editor Richard Zimmerman, himself a ragtime pianist, notes, ragtime in Texas
was close to the blues, and there were also a large number of gifted women
composers. The collection is especially valuable for the seven compositions by
Euday L. Bowman that are included. Bowman is well- known as the composer of
“12th Street Rag,” but he moved between both the black and white communities
and his self-published compositions from the Fort Worth area also give an
intriguing suggestion of the blues styles around him. Much of what we know of
classic Texas blues piano is already documented in his scores. As Zimmerman
notes in his introduction:
As you play these ragtime gems, notice some of the characteristics which many
share. Particularly striking is the “walking bass” found in MAJESTIC RAG,
ALAMO BLUES, IMPERIAL RAG, and the blues by Euday Bowman. It was the
forerunner of the boogie bass. It should be no surprise to learn that some of the
earliest examples of boogie woogie were from Texas.
Also popular was the addition of a fifth in the bass instead of a single note sometimes called “Keene Bass.” Some examples of this device are found in
that the line between rags and blues is very thin. Some of the very first blues ever
published also came from Texas.
II C6. Jazz Dance and Piano Blues, including Jelly Roll
The release of the first commercially successful blues recording in 1920 began the
shift in attention in the new African American musical forms away from sheet music to
phonograph records. There had been sporadic interest in blues following the success of
W. C. Handy’s “St. Louis Blues” in 1914, but there was still so much casual overlapping
of the new styles that the cover of Handy’s blues advertised, “The most widely known
ragtime composition by W. C. Handy.” The pre-1920 blues compositions by commercial
song writers are an interesting glimpse into the confusion about what a “blues” song
might be. There was also an overlapping of styles as the ragtime era gave way to jazz in
the 1920s, and both ragtime influenced instrumental pieces and popular songs were
absorbed into the new idiom.
Berlin, Irving. EVERYBODY’S DOIN’ IT NOW. New York, Ted Snyder Co., 1911
Folder 204
Bernie, Ben, Maceo Pinkard, and Kenneth Casey. SWEET GEORGIA BROWN.
Folder 193
Modern publication by Warner Bros. Publications, originally published 1925.
Bowman, Euday L. FT. WORTH BLUES. Fort Worth, Euday Bowman, 1915.
Folder 190
Bowman was an obscure pianist who lived in Fort Worth, passing for white,
but living in the black community. Although he was at the fringe of the music
industry he had the foresight to publish his compositions, and in 1914 he
copyrighted his “Twelfth Street Rag,” which in the 1940s became the bestselling ragtime composition of all time, even surpassing Joplin’s “Maple Leaf
Rag.” Bowman was able to enjoy his success, moving to New York and recording
his own version of his composition, playing the piano he’d written it on. The
sheet music of “Ft. Worth Blues” is simple and functional in design, but the piece
itself is a complex solo stylistically situated between ragtime and the emerging
“blues” style.
Brooks, Shelton. THE DARKTOWN STRUTTER’S BALL. New York, Will
Rossiter, 1917. Folder 196
Brown, Sid (Music) and Val Harris, (Words). TEXAS TOMMY SWING. New York,
Jerome H. Remick & Co. 1911. Folder 199
Coogan, Jack (Music) Jimmy Morgan and Jack Coogan (Words). CLEOPATRA HAD
A JAZZ BAND. New York, Leo. Feist Inc., 1917. Folder 186
Cooper, Joe (Music) and Bert Kalmar (Words). I’VE BEEN FLOATING DOWN
THE OLD GREEN RIVER. New York, Waterson, Berlin & Snyder Co, 1915.
Folder 198
Creamer & Layton. AFTER YOU’VE GONE. New York, Broadway Music Corp. 1918.
Folder 200
Davis, Charlie (Music) and Walter Melrose (Words). COPENHAGEN. Chicago,
Melrose Brothers Music Company, 1924. Folder 194
The Melrose Brothers were to become important figures in the development of
commercial blues industry in the 1930s. At the time they published this song
version of a popular new jazz piece they were also publishing the music of Jelly
Roll Morton, and the back cover the sheet music reprints the opening bars of
Morton’s “Wolverine Blues,” with the note “By Jelly Roll Morton - World’s most
famous writer of the Blues.”
Gay, Ebon. CAMEL WALK BLUES. St. Louis, Stark Music Co., 1919. Folder 202
Hagen, Earle. HARLEM NOCTURNE. Piano solo. NYC: Shapiro, Bernstein & Co., 1946.
Folder 338
Handy, W. C. THE MEMPHIS BLUES. “A Southern Rag.” New York, Theron C.
Bennett, 1913. Folder 208
A heading on the title reads, “Geo. A. Norton’s Song Founded on W. C. Handy’s
World Wide “Blue” Melody.
Handy, W. C. THE SAINT LOUIS BLUES. “The First Successful ‘Blues’ Published.
New York, Pace Handy Music Co.1914. Folder 207
This edition is by Handy’s own publishing company in the early 1920s. The back
cover advertises other titles in the catalog - all of them popular songs - with the
promise that these are blues.
“When you buy an article, you want the real thing so you naturally go to the
‘fountainhead’ for it. OUR CATALOG is the ‘fountainhead’ for real BLUES.
We are the ORIGINATORS of this popular style of composition. Look them over
carefully . . .”
Handy, W. C. THE YELLOW DOG BLUES. New York, Pace & Handy Music Co.,
1919. Folder 195
The song is based on folk sources and includes the line, “He’s gone where
Southern Cross’ The Yellow Dog.” The Southern is a railroad line that crosses
the tracks of the Yazoo Delta railroad, “The Yellow Dog,” at Moorehead,
Jordan, Joe (Music) and Clarence Williams. MOROCCO BLUES. New York, Clarence
Williams Music Publishing Inc., 1926. Folder 206
New Orleans pianist and composer Clarence Williams was one of the
handful of African Americans to own one of the music companies selling black
music. Pace-Handy, co-owned by W. C. Handy, was the other important black
music publisher in New York. Williams was also a recording director for
Columbia Records 14000 “race” series, and he performed on dozens of sessions,
as pianist, vocalist, and band leader.
McCarron, Chas. and Chris Smith. DOWN IN HONKY TONKY TOWN. New York,
Broadway Music Corporation, 1916. Folder 201
The back cover reprints the first page of Ed. B. Claypoole’s “Ragging The Scale.”
Macklin, Cecil. TRES MOUTARDE (TOO MUCH MUSTARD.) One or TwoStep or Tango. New York, Edward Schuberth & Co. 1911. Folder 192
This was one of biggest instrumental hits of the World War I era. The inside
cover reprints the first page of Macklin’s “That Whistling Rag.”
Morgan, Carey (Music) and Arthur Swanstrom (Words). BROADWAY BLUES. NYC:
Irving Berlin, Inc., 1920. Folder 337
[See also II.C.7. Ragtime Orchestrations]
Morton, Ferdinand “Jelly Roll.” KING PORTER STOMP. Chicago, Melrose Brothers,
1925. Folder 210
A 1920s publication including a sketch of Morton’s accomplishments and
suggestions for performance inside the front cover and a list of Morton’s
compositions on the back cover.
PIANO. London, Herman Darewski Music Publishing Co., 1940s. Folder 211
This album, with its pictorial cover of Morton, was printed in England from plates
supplied by the Melrose Brothers. Samuel Charters purchased it at a music shop
in Charing Cross Road in London in 1948. It includes Wolverine Blues, King
Porter Stomp, New Orleans Blues, Black Bottom Stomp, London Blues, Chicago
Breakdown, The Pearls, Kansas City Stomp, Shreveport Stomp
& Company, Inc., 1965. Dodd C 5662
This large volume, containing 68 of Morton’s compositions, is both an
illuminating treasure trove and an exasperating puzzle for anyone interested in
Morton, since it includes many of the compositions only in the single melodic line
and chord sequence form that, presumably, Morton, or his executor Roy Carew,
submitted for copyright. Many of the pieces are also included in piano score, but
these scores often differ from the publications issued by Melrose Brothers, his
Chicago publishers. The difficulty with the material is that the collection is a
commercial publication and there is no indication as to the source or dependability
of the music that is included. Also, as a pianist will quickly find, often the
arrangements are unplayable. A positive feature of the book is some historical
material - reproductions of sheet music covers, etc. - and a biographical sketch
by Mary Allen Hood and Helen M. Flint, who may also have edited the volume.
PIANO MUSIC. A joint publication of G. Schirmer, New York, and the
Smithsonian Institute Press, Washington, D. C. 1982. Dodd C5619
This staggering volume (513 pages) is one of the monuments to devoted jazz
scholarship. Dapogny has collated Morton’s performances of his compositions
with the printed publications, and annotated Morton’s entire body of work in
transcriptions that mirror Morton’s playing of each piece, and also capture the
difficulties that his work presents for the average pianist. Dapogny’s introductions
include a discussion of the musical characteristics of the composition
and its place in his production, as well as information on recordings, notes
indicating variants in Morton’s performances, a glossary, a bibliography, and
reproductions of manuscripts and sheet music covers. Anyone who has any
serious interest in American music is in debt to James Dapogny for this collection.
Overstreet, W. Benton (Music) and Billy Higgins (Words). THERE’LL BE SOME
CHANGES MADE. New York, Edward B. Marks, 1921. Folder 187
Later reprint.
Pollack, Lew (Music) and Jack Yellen (Words). LOUD SPEAKIN’ PAPA, You’d
Better Speak Easy To Me. New York, Ager, Yellen & Bornstein Inc, 1925.
Folder 188
Redman, Donald. CHANT OF THE WEED. New York, Gotham Music Service, 1932.
Folder 205
Redman was saxophone soloist and arranger for the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra
and for McKinney’s Cotton Pickers and this is a piano score of one of his most
successful big band arrangements. In 1932, when this music was published, it
was still legal to sell and use marijuana in the United States.
Smith Chris (Music) and Jim Burris (Words). BALLIN’ THE JACK. New York,
Jos. W. Stern & Co. 1913. Folder 191
Smith, Chris. BALLIN’ THE JACK. Fox Trot. New York, Jos. W. Stern, 1914.
Folder 203
This is the instrumental version of the piece, published a year after the song.
As a final strain the music introduces a section from the instrumental rag
“What It Takes To Make Me Love You,” written by the popular orchestra
leader James Reese Europe, like Smith, an African American.
STAR DANCE FOLIO NO 26. “Especially Arranged as Fox Trots, One Steps, Blues, Waltzes
Contains piano arrangements for “Slow Fox Trots or Blues”. NYC: Jerome H. Remick,
1924. Folder 339
A New Kind Of Man
Beau Brummel Joe
Easy Goin’ Man
It Had to be Yo
I Want to Walk In Again Blues
Virginia’s Calling me
Von Tilzer (Music) and Lew Brown (Words). BIG CHIEF WALLY HO WOO “He’d
Wiggle His Way To Her Wigwam.” New York, Broadway Music Corporation,
1921. Folder 209
Although this 1920s song has almost nothing memorable about it except its
offensive social attitude the back cover advertises “A Blues Song That Will Drive
Away The Blues. By the writers of ‘Oh By Jingo.’” The song is the popular
standard “(I Used To Love You But) It’s All Over Now.” Clearly even at this
relatively late date there is still considerable uncertainty as to what is or isn’t a
Von Tilzer, Harry (Music) and Andrew B. Sterling (Words). THE RAGTIME GOBLIN
MAN. New York: Harry Von Tilzer Publishing, 1911. Folder 241
Waller, Thomas and Harry Brooks (Music) and Andy Razaf (Words). AIN’T
MISBEHAVIN’. New York, Mills Music, 1929. Folder 209
Waller, Thomas. “FATS” WALLER’S PIANO PRANKS. Five Novelty Piano
Solos Composed and Featured by “Fats” Waller, “Radio’s Harmful Little
Armful.” New York, Joe Davis Inc, 1934. Folder 189
The collection includes Clothes Line Ballet, Alligator Crawl, Viper’s Drag,
Effercescent, and African Ripples. Waller at this time was appearing regularly
on a CBS national radio program.
Williams, Spencer. BASIN STREET BLUES. Arranged for Hawaian and electric
guitars. Cleveland, Oahu Publishing Company, 1933. Folder 336
II C7. A Part Book from “The Red Back Book” and
Other Orchestrations
Early ragtime sheet music often advertised that arrangements of the pieces were
available for a variety of instruments and instrumental combinations. Sometimes the list
of arrangements looked so ambitious that it is difficult to believe that all of the music was
actually published. The cover for Tom Turpin’s classic rag “Bowery Buck,” published
by Will Rossiter in Chicago in 1899, lists 12 different arrangements available, with
Mandolin solo
2 Mandolins
1 Mandolin and Piano
2 Mandolins and Piano
1 Mandolin, Guitar and Piano
2 Mandolins, Guitar and Piano
1 Mandolin and Guitar
2 Mandolins and Guitar
1 Banjo
2 Banjos
If arrangements like these were actually published they sold fewer copies than the
piano scores themselves. They are almost completely unknown, and if they are found
they are usually part of larger instrumental collections. As the ragtime era waned many
publishers still advertised orchestral arrangements, but by the 1920s the only suggestion
for a different instrumentation usually was incorporated into the music - a tuning diagram
and chords for the ukulele. The orchestrations, however, are of great importance in the
development of early jazz. New Orleans jazz polyphony can be traced directly to ragtime
orchestral arrangements. If the instrumental parts are played with some interpolated
improvisation they become a root source of one of the most important early jazz styles.
A Part Book For “The Red Back Book”
The most famous of the collections of ragtime compositions published in orchestral
form was Standard High-Class Rags, a compilation by John Stark’s music company, the
most important of the companies issuing the compositions of the “classic” ragtime
composers, among them Scott Joplin, James Scott, and Joseph Lamb. The part books
were published with red covers, and the New Orleans musicians knew them as “The Red
Back Books.” The instrumentation was for a small theater or dance orchestra, and the
parts were written with enough doubling that it was possible to play the pieces with less
than the eleven parts that constituted the entire arrangement. In other words, the
arrangement could be played with flute and violin and piano, or violin and piano, or
piano solo, or clarinet and piano. The parts were for flute, clarinet, violin, second violin,
viola, cello, cornet, trombone, bass, piano, and drums.
Although the Red Back Book was known throughout the early jazz world it is one
of the rarest of the important ragtime publications. As far as I have been able to learn the
set of parts which became the basis for the orchestra arrangements of the ragtime revival
in the 1970s came from photostat copies jazz researcher William Russell had made from
the set in the possession of Chicago musician Charlie Elgar in the 1930s. In the fall of
1953 I was browsing in a large used book store in downtown San Francisco, and I found
a balcony of the store that was filled with long tables and haphazard piles of sheet music.
Near the top of the first pile I looked through was the piano part book for Standard HighClass Rags, with its red cover. For several weeks I spent hours every day searching
through every other pile of music in the store, but I never found any of the other parts. I
could only guess why they weren’t with the piano part - just as I could only guess how
the piano part itself had found its way to San Francisco.
STANDARD HIGH CLASS RAGS. Piano. St. Louis, Stark Music Company, nd.
Includes the piano part - playable as a solo - for the following Stark rags:
Maple Leaf Rag
Folder 238
The Cascades
The Easy Winners
The Rag Time Dance
The Chrysanthemum
African Pas
Ophelia Rag
Hilarity Rag
The Minstrel Man
Frog Legs Rag
Grace And Beauty
Sun Flower Slow Drag
The Entertainer
Folder 230
Folder 233
Folder 236
Folder 231
Folder 235
Folder 232
Folder 234
Folder 237
Eight of the compositions are by Scott Joplin, four by James Scott, one by Joseph
Lamp, one by J. Russell Robinson, and one - “African Pas” - by M. Kirwin. The
arrangers credited on the music include Rocco Venuto, E. J. Stark, and D. S. DeLisle.
One of the arrangements, for James Scott’s “Frog Legs Rag,” is credited to Scott Joplin.
The archive also includes photostat copies of the orchestra parts for most of the
Stark collection. The arrangements are present for The Chrysanthemum, Grace and
Beauty, The Easy Winners, Sun Flower Slow Drag, The Cascades, Sensation, The
Entertainer, and Maple Leaf Rag.
Other Ragtime Orchestrations
In the summer of 1960 I was in a bookstore in Baltimore with Ann Charters, and in
a stuffy attic we found several cartons containing old music. In one of the cartons there
were the orchestral parts for several rags. The orchestrations seemed to be complete, or
complete enough to be performed by the orchestra that was using them. Many of the
orchestrations were enclosed in folded card pages printed with advertisements, baseball
scores and racing results, and those pieces of the card material that are dated are from the
early 1900s. The rags are generally arranged for two violins, viola, cello, piccolo or
flute, clarinet, two cornets, trombone, piano, bass, and drums.
Anthony, Bert R. A WARM RECEPTION. Cake Walk and Two Step. arr. by
M. I. Brazil. Fall River, Mass. G. H. Munroe & Co., 1899. 13 parts. Folder 233
Berlin, Irving. THE INTERNATIONAL RAG. March and Two Step. arr. Wm.
Schulz. New York, Waterson, Berlin & Snyder, 1913. 9 parts. Folder 224
Botsford, George. BLACK AND WHITE. Ragtime Two-Step. arr. J. Bodewalt
Lampe. New York, Jerome H. Remick & Co., 1909. 17 parts. Folder 226
This is one of several more ambitious arrangements, which include
oboe, bassoon, second clarinet, and horns.
Mahony, Ed. C. COMET RAG. arr. by F. H. Losey. Boston, Jos. M. Daly, 1911. 12
Parts. Folder 221
Mills, Kerry, KERRY MILLS RAGTIME DANCE. New York, F. A. Mills, 1909. 12
Parts. Folder 220
Moret, Neil. HIAWATHA. arr. by E. W. Berry. Detroit, Whitney, Warner Pub. Co.,
1902. 17 parts. Folder 225
Pierson, Will T. RAG-A-MUFFIN RAG. arr. by J. S. Zamecnik. Cleveland, Sam Fox
Pub. Co. 1913. 17 parts. Folder 222
Wenrich, Percy. PEACHES AND CREAM. A Delectable Rag. Arr. by J. Bodewalt
Lampe. New York, Jerome H. Remick & Co., 1906. Folder 227
Only the parts for piano, 1st violin, and cornet are present.
Two Pre-Ragtime Dance Arrangements
The material in the Baltimore bookstore also included two arrangements obviously
used by the same orchestra for standard dances.
Faust, C. QUADRILLE TOUR et RETOUR. Boston, Jean White, 1892. 10 parts.
Folder 229
Schlepegrell, R. OSCAR’S POLO LANCIERS. np. J. W. Pepper, 1881. 13 parts.
Folder 228
A “Jelly Roll” Morton Orchestration
The recordings Morton made in late 1926 in Chicago with a pick-up group of
musicians that Victor Records named “Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers,” have long
been famed for their imaginative and distinctive arrangements. Although the recordings
didn’t sound like later sessions Morton made in New York with other musicians the
assumption has always been that it was the quality of the musicians and not a difference
in the arrangement style that caused critics generally to compare the New York sessions
unfavorably with the Chicago recordings. This orchestration of one of the finest of the
Chicago recordings, and printed by Morton’s Chicago publisher, however, credits the
arrangement to Mel Stitzel, who was the pianist with many of the most successful white
jazz groups in Chicago, including the historic New Orleans Rhythm Kings. The music
annotates the solos, as well as the instrumental passagework that made the music so
memorable. It is known that George Mitchell, the cornet player for the recording of
“Jelly Roll Blues” didn’t improvise, so his solo was played from a score, which perhaps
was the one published by Melrose. The arrangements for these sessions are so unique
that it could have been Stitzel who brought Morton’s compositions so vividly to life.
Morton, “Jelly Roll.” JELLY ROLL BLUES. Orchestration by Jelly Roll Morton,
Arranged by Mel Stitzel. Chicago, Melrose Bros. Music Co., Inc. 1927.
The arrangement is for an eleven piece jazz orchestra, including three saxophones
and violin. The orchestration is in a printed folio which includes advertising for
other Melrose orchestrations and instrumental folios on the back cover. One of the
folios advertised is Louis Armstrong’s 125 Jazz Breaks For Cornet, with the
note, “To thousands of musicians Armstrong is known as the world’s hottest and
most eccentric cornetist. All his tricks are in this book.” Also advertised is a
collection of Morton’s compositions, Jelly Roll Morton’s Folio of Hot Blues and
Stomps for Piano. “Contains 12 of his best selections. Arranged as played by this
artist on the records.” At $0.50 it is described as “A great buy.”
II C8. Modern Ragtime Compositions
Although many classical composers, among them Igor Stravinsky, Erik Satie, and
Maurice Ravel, have written music inspired by ragtime syncopations and melodies, in
recent years younger musicians have begun writing in earlier ragtime styles. Many of the
new composers are also performers, and they want to add personal pieces to their rag
repertoire. Every style of ragtime is represented by the new compositions, from the folk
influenced “Missouri Valley” rags to the newest development, a free, ragtime based form
of composition called “Terra Verde.” Among the classically trained composers today
William Bolcomb has long had an interest in classic ragtime, and he recorded pieces from
the classic rag repertoire during the ragtime revival of the 1970s. His 3 Ghost Rags, from
1989, are brilliant examples of the use of ragtime elements for modern composition.
Ashwander, Donald. THE MUSIC OF DONALD ASHWANDER, Vol. 1. Dallas, The
Estate of Donald Ashwander, 1996. Folder 91
Contains Friday Night, Astor Place Rag Waltz, Business In Town, Mobile
Carnival Rag Tango, Empty Porches, Waterloo Rag, Forgotten Ballrooms, On The
Highwire, Perdido Bay Moon Rag, and Yard Sale Rag. Ashwander was born in
Alabama, but spent more than 40 years in New York as Musical Director of The
Paper Bag Players. He was a gifted performer and a prolific composer. “Friday
Night” was included in the English Royal Ballet’s tribute to ragtime “Elite
Syncopations,” in 1974, with choreography by Kenneth Macmillan.
Bolcomb, William. 3 GHOST RAGS. np, Edward B. Marks Music, 1989. Folder 90
Contains Graceful Ghost Rag, Dream Shadows, and The Poltergeist.
Isbitz, Hal. LAZY SUSAN, A RAGTIME RONDO. Santa Barbara, CA: Zelda
Productions, 1997. Signed by Isbitz. [not transferred]
This piece was the winner of the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Foundation
Ragtime Composition Contest. It is another of Isbitz’s classics of the new ragtime.
Mahler, David. RAGS AND BARBERSHOPS. np. David Mahler, 1988. Folder 92
Contains A Rag Of Hearts, Small Wonders, On The Banks Of The Wabash (arr.),
A Diamond And A Rose, “Triple A” Rag, Spring Fancies Rag, The Northwest
Mystics, The Cardinals Rag. “Rag of Hearts”is dedicated to Jim Tenney, a pianist,
teacher, and pioneer electronic composer who also has an abiding love of ragtime.
Morath, Max. THE GOLDEN HOURS. To the memory of Harriet Janis. New York,
Hollis Music, Inc. 1966. Folder 2
Offprint from the book They All Played Ragtime.
Tenney, James. RAGGEDY ANNE. 1969. Folder 93
Unpublished manuscript dedicated to Sam and Ann Charters.
Max Morath, as a result of his television appearances, stage shows, and many
recordings has played a major role in the efforts to bring ragtime back to its proper place
in the American musical spectrum. He is a genial, gifted performer, as well as a
successful contemporary ragtime composer. He presented this gathering of his music
folios and press folder to the Archive.
Morath’s Press Kit, including photographs for publication, reviews, and a biographical
sketch. See box II.C.8
Max Morath’s Giants of Ragtime
Composers included:
Scott Joplin
Eubie Blake
Luckey Roberts
James Reese Europe
Tom Turpin
New York: Edward B. Marks, 1971. Folder 251
Max Morath’s Songs of the Early 20th Century Entertainer New York: Edward B.
Marks, 1977. Folder 252
For this collection Morath has gathered a selection of songs made popular by
among other the popular team of Bert Williams and George Walker, and also songfs
featured by Williams after his partner’s death. Two of Williams’ classic recorded
songs open the collection. “Nobody” and “Jonah Man,” and there are compositions
by “Bob” Cole, J. Rosamund Johnson, and James Reese Europe. As Morath noted
in his introduction many of the composers represented were members of the Harlem
African American entertainers fraternity The Frogs, which also included Bert
Best of Ragtime Piano, Max Morath.
Folder 253
Composers included:
Scott Joplin
James Scott
New York: Cherry Lane Music, 1993.
Charles L. Johnson
Joseph Northrup
Joseph Lamb
Ted Snyder
George Northrup
Max Morath “Cripple Creek, A Ragtime Suite for Piano“ New York, Cherry Lane
Music, 1993. Folder 254
Morath’s family was part of the roaring past of the Colorado mining town Cripple
Creek, and Morath had his first job as an eighteen year old pianist in a Cripple
Creek bar. His suite of six compositions is an evocation of the moods of the old
town in its glory days.
These compositions were respectively the First and Second Prize Winners at the Scott
Joplin Ragtime Festival Ragtime Composition Contest, 1997.
Brian Dykstra. SPRING BEAUTIES. Published by Brian Dykstra, 1996. Folder 340
In a note Dykstra explains that Spring Beauties are small spring wildflowers, and he wrote
the rag to follow classic rags by Joplin and Lamb named for flowers.
Hal Isbitz. LAZY SUSAN: A Ragtime Rondo. Santa Barbara: Zelda Productions, 1997.
Folder 341
THE THIRTY FINGER ENTERTAINER. An arrangement of Joplin’s “The Entertainer” for
three pianists at the keyboard Jean Huling/Scott Joplin. Published by Jean Huling,
Madison, Ohio, 1994. Folder 342
Trebor Tichenor. TEMPUS RAGORUM. A collection of nine rags written in the Missouri
folkstyle, including a composition dedicated to the memory of his wife “Distant Lights”
and a genial rag with the unlikely title of “T. S. Eliot Society Rag”. Folder 343
II C9. William Grant Still
Most of these publications have been issued by Judith Anne Still under the imprint of
William Grant Still Music.
Africa - A Suite for Solo Piano Folder 246
Seven Traceries - A Suite for Solo Piano Folder 247
Songs of Separation - A Song Cycle - Voice and Piano Folder 248
This is a cycle of five songs , four of them utilizing poems of major African
American poets as texts. Included are:
Idolatry - Arna Bontemps
Poeme - Philippe Thoby Marcelin
Parted - Paul Laurence Dunbar
If You Should Go - Countee Cullen
A Black Pierrot - Langston Hughes
This score is also included in a reprint of the original publication by Leeds Music
Corporation in 1949.
Three Visions - A Suite for Solo Piano Folder 249