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December2006
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Come On And Hear Alexander's Ragtime Band

It’s the best band in the land! So said Irving Berlin in his ode to the piano-based musical genre characterized by its syncopated, distinctive, so-called “ragged” right-hand movement on the keyboard – a melody intended to induce dancing.

Sailor and flapper. 1926 The fascinating lure of the ragtime dance. 1913

By the early 1900s, ragtime flooded the music publishing industry. The popularity and demand for ragtime also boosted sales of pianos and greatly swelled the ranks of the recording industry.

No need to go to the music store for your sheet music. Thanks to page-by-page technology, you can now flip through scores, including Berlin’s “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” from the comfort of your own home. You can also search for specific composers and musical works, as well as read an essay on one of the works of Scott Joplin, the composer most often associated with the genre.

This presentation on ragtime is featured as part of LC Presents Music, Theater and Dance, a showcase of the diversity of American performing arts as found in the Library’s collections of scores, sheet music, audio recordings, films, photographs, maps and other materials. Also highlighted are the collections of Katharine Dunham and Gerry Mulligan, along with Jazz on the Screen, a searchable database on jazz, which was born from ragtime music, created by historian David Meeker.


A. Sailor and flapper. 1926. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction Information: Reproduction No.: LC-USZ62-94321 (b&w film copy neg.), Rights status not evaluated; Call No.: CD 1 - Covarrubias, no. 198 (A size) <P&P>[P&P]

B. The fascinating lure of the ragtime dance. 1913. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction Information: Publication may be restricted. For information see “Cabinet of American Illustration”; Call No.: CAI - McCutcheon, no. 23 (B size) <P&P>[P&P]