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Dancing to a Black Man's Tune: A Life of Scott Joplin (MISSOURI BIOGRAPHY SERIES) Hardcover – June 1, 1994

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: University of Missouri (June 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826209491
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826209498
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,908,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Aiming at a scholarly audience, Curtis, who teaches American history at Purdue, offers a thoughtful and intriguing study of the life and world of ragtime creator Scott Joplin (1868-1917). Lapsing only occasionally into academic jargon, the author ably places Joplin in the context of an emerging biracial society and culture as a man who was denied rights because of his color yet applauded as a musician. The syncopated rhythms of ragtime spoke to an 1890s society loosening its Victorian morals, suggests Curtis, who shows how the black musician's career was boosted nationally by white promoter John Stark, who published the famed Maple Leaf Rag in 1899. Though Joplin's work, including his opera Treemonisha , influenced the emerging culture of the 20th century, divisions within the black cultural community of New York City, Curtis explains, relegated the composer to the fringes during his last years. But Joplin's music remains, she notes, as a prototype of the "hybrid cultural forms" that can help knit together a multiracial society. Illustrations not seen by PW .
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Joplin's music first came to the attention of most people through the 1973 film The Sting, but aside from the recollections of aging family and friends, little accurate biographical information was available on the composer prior to Curtis's account. Born to freedpeople in Texas in 1868, Joplin was a product of both slave traditions and the promise of Reconstruction. In 1893 he journeyed to Chicago and soaked up the influences that led to the flowering of ragtime music. By 1899, Joplin had composed Maple Leaf Rag, which set the standard for future ragtime compositions. The next decade found him in Missouri, where he continued to compose and teach music. Joplin's final years were spent on the ambitious, autobiographical opera Treemonisha. This scholarly work, concerned with race, society, and culture, is recommended for serious music collections.
Dan Bogey, Clearfield Cty. P.L. Federation, Curwensville, Pa.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By John Hartford on August 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Susan Curtis's passion is more for cultural history than for Scott Joplin. She says as much in her preface where she describes Scott Joplin as "the perfect vehicle for the questions I wanted to ask." I felt I was reading her cultural theories rather than a biography of Joplin. She pays little attention to his music. There are no musical examples. And most of his rags are not even mentioned.

As a book on the culture of his day this is a good read. However, for those who would prefer a book on and about Scott Joplin I would recommend Edward A. Berlin's book 'King of Ragtime'.
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