"The most accurate and informative Joplin biography."--Time
"What a scrupulous historian and musicologist Mr. Berlin is, rigorously sorting through the facts of Joplin's life and era....The history of popular music needs this."--The New York Times
"Not only was no stone left unturned [by Berlin], but very few pebbles are left for other scholars to pick up."--San Francisco Chronicle
Destined to be the definitive work on the man and his music, King of Ragtime is written by Edward A. Berlin. A renowned authority on Joplin and the author of the acclaimed and widely cited Ragtime: A Musical and Cultural History, Berlin redefines the Scott Joplin biography. Using the tools of a trained musicologist, he has uncovered a vast amount of new information about Joplin. His biography truly documents the story of the composer, replacing the myths and unsupported anecdotes of previous histories. He shows how Joplin's opera Treemonisha was a tribute to the woman he loved, a woman other biographers never even mentioned. Berlin also reveals that Joplin was an associate of Irving Berlin, and that he accused Berlin of stealing his music to compose Alexander's Ragtime Band in 1911.
Berlin paints a vivid picture of the ragtime years, placing Scott Joplin's story in its historical context. The composer emerges as a representative of the first post-Civil War generation of African Americans, of the men and women who found in the world of entertainment a way out of poverty and lowly social status. King of Ragtime recreates the excitement of these pioneers, who dreamed of greatness as they sought to expand the limits society placed upon their race.