Biographies Joseph Lamb, 1887-1960

Image: Pastel drawing of Joseph Lamb
[Pastel portrait of Joseph Lamb] by A.J. Wilson, 1959. Performing Arts Reading Room, Library of Congress.

Joseph Lamb was born in Montclair, New Jersey, in December 1877. A family man who was an anomaly in the contemporary music world, Lamb shunned the ups and downs of show business for a steady job in business. Nevertheless, Lamb is remembered alongside Scott Joplin and James Scott as one of the three great ragtime proponents.

As a teenager, Lamb commuted from New Jersey to New York City where he worked for a dry goods merchant. He attempted a job at song-plugging in Tin Pan Alley, where he became acquainted with Joplin, but after less than a year, he returned to selling textiles. Ragtime, however, remained an important part of his personal life. When he was "discovered" in the late 1940s by ragtime historians Rudi Blesh and Harriet Janis, he once again became an active composer. He made his first recording in 1959.

Lamb liked to describe his rags as either "light" or "heavy"--the former were simpler pieces in line with the popular rags of the era of John Stark & Sons, with whom he published many of his works. The "heavy" rags were more complex and virtuosic. In these compositions, he exploited the richest harmonies and stylistic intricacies of European art music. Works such as the "American Beauty" and the "Alaskan Rag" demonstrate Lamb's genius.

Lamb died in September of 1960 in Brooklyn. Unfortunately, recognition of his contributions to ragtime came only at the end of his life.

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About this Item

Title
Joseph Lamb, 1887-1960
Subject Headings
-  Lamb, Joseph F. (Joseph Francis) -- 1887-1960 -- -- composer
-  Popular Songs of the Day
-  Songs and Music
-  Progressive Era to New Era (1900-1929)
-  Biographies
Genre
biography
Online Format
online text
Description
Biography. Biography. Lamb died in September of 1960 in Brooklyn. Unfortunately, recognition of his contributions to ragtime came only at the end of his life.
Additional Metadata Formats
METSXML Record

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Items included here with the permission of the rights holders are indicated as such in the bibliographic record for each item.

In some cases, the Library was unable to identify a possible rights holder and has elected to place some of those items online as an exercise of fair use for strictly non-commercial educational uses. The Library of Congress would like to learn more about these materials and would like to hear from individuals or institutions that have any additional information or know of their history. Please contact:  Performing Arts Reading Room.

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Chicago citation style:

Joseph Lamb, 1887 to 1960. Online Text. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/ihas.200035818/. (Accessed July 26, 2017.)

APA citation style:

Joseph Lamb, 1887 to 1960. [Online Text] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/ihas.200035818/.

MLA citation style:

Joseph Lamb, 1887 to 1960. Online Text. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <https://www.loc.gov/item/ihas.200035818/>.