Work: Elite Syncopations
About This Work
1902 saw the issue of four new rags from Scott Joplin, who, seeking a better commercial outlet for his music, had moved from Sedalia, MO (today home to the annual Scott Joplin Festival), to the city of St. Louis about a year earlier. Three of these
new pieces have since become standards of the genre: The Ragtime Dance, all-time favorite The Entertainer, and Elite Syncopations.
All ragtime music is rhythmically charged -- forward-thrusting, syncopated -- but there is a particular bounce to the step of Elite Syncopations, a frequent intrusion of unusual and quite wry off-beats (they are also quite graceless when played badly, as they all too often are) into the flow. Hence its title. Elite Syncopations is built, as are all of Joplin's pieces, from several tuneful strands. Throughout the first of them, which comes back several times, Joplin slides around chromatically, first up and then, in a charming little offbeat filler at the end of the opening phrase, back down. Towards the end of the piece we move from the F major that has thus far been home base to B flat major, never to return -- lovers of Viennese waltzes and many polkas will find this last-hour shift to another key quite familiar, and once again we have to marvel at how closely Joplin's ultra-American music follows the venerable dance traditions of Europe.
Select a specific Performer, Conductor or Ensemble or browse recordings by Formats & Featured below