Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Who was the best, most original, most important composer from the United States?

Scott Joplin (1867/8-1917).

There are no great US composers - no-one of the stature of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner - so we are comparing minor figures.  

Joplin was a miniaturist - but he achieved perfection, many times over, in his genre. He established Ragtime and became, without dispute, its best writer; and Ragtime led to Jazz - which was America's major contribution to world music.

This is one of Joplin's less-well-known works, but a favourite of mine: Nonpareil. I find it absolutely and completely delightful in its gentle, lyrical fluidity! -- Great all through; but wait for the fourth and final theme with its extreme syncopated arpeggios -- so wistful, so yearning - yet so easy to enjoy!...