Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Scott Joplin's Platinum Hit
The Maple Leaf Rag was written in 1899, and was the first piece of sheet music to sell over a million copies.
I remember my grandmother telling me about how my grandfather would play the Maple Leaf Rag to impress her back when he was wooing her. She still had the sheet music, yellow, brittle and flaking around the edges. She gave it to us when my sister and I started taking piano lessons, and my sister has it to this day. It looks exactly like this edition. (I love the access that we have to cherished memories through the divine intervention of the internet.)
I learned the first two strains, but never the third which is harder. Looking around on You-Tube, there were a lot of versions, but I kind of liked this one. He plays it "shuffle style" rather than straight which many musicians argue about tediously, and he improvises and embellishes frequently which would probably enrage yet more scholars. But I really enjoy his version more than just about any of the others. (Sometimes a potentially good version is ruined by poor recording quality.) Often it is simply played way too fast.
The piano he used also sounds perfect for this. Enjoy!