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2017 WCRF Seminars
November 17, 18, and 19
Updated 8/11/2017

Go to the Seminar Presenters Page for biographical information.


Max Morath presents
Goodbye Ragtime, Hello Jazz

What happened in 1917? Did the music change? Or just the names we gave to the music? Did “jass” really “come up the Mississippi River from New Orleans?” What happened at Reisenweber’s in New York City? Who “invented” jazz? What happened to Ragtime?

In this Seminar, Max will attempt to answer some of these questions, always allowing that in the chaotic history of American music, every answer creates new questions.

Andrew Greene presents
Orchestrations of Scott Joplin’s Music

Andrew’s seminar will discuss how arrangers took Scott Joplin’s melodies and were able to interpret them for use in larger ensembles. It will include digital sound files that show how people built on Joplin’s pieces to add to, and in some cases detract from, Joplin’s original intent.

Selections from “The Red Back Book,” Treemonisha, and some newly-uncovered original Joplin orchestrations will be played and discussed.

Ed Berlin presents
Scott Joplin’s Personality — Characteristics and Contradictions

We know and love the music of Scott Joplin, but the man continues to elude us. Who was the man behind the music? Ed’s seminar presents an investigation of Joplin’s character, personality, and values.

One view of this composer of lively, exuberant, and joyful Ragtime depicts him as taciturn, withdrawn, unsmiling, and possibly depressive. But he also showed traits that would seem to contradict that view as he had participated in community activities and demonstrated leadership and showmanship, and knew how to please the public.

There are signs that he might have dabbled in radical politics. But if so, that interest is not present in his opera Treemonisha. How do we reconcile these contrary characteristics of Ragtime’s greatest composer?

Frederick Hodges presents
Fred Astaire in Ragtime

Frederick will present a musical history of Fred Astaire's early career during his stellar Vaudeville days, 1905 to 1917.

Ryan Wishner presents
The “When” and “Where” of Ragtime’s Beginnings

The questions on the age and origin of Ragtime seem to have as many answers as there are keys on the piano. How early was Ragtime-like music being played? From where was it derived? Were there more influences on Ragtime than many think? Was syncopated music really that uncommon and unacceptable in 19th century America? Can the roots of Ragtime ever be traced definitively?

Ryan’s seminar will explore a few possible answers to these questions.

Richard Zimmerman presents
Ragtime Revivals — The First 75 Years

Many of us are aware of the worldwide revival of Scott Joplin’s music in the Seventies, but not of the numerous ragtime revivals which began in the Thirties. All of these were unplanned, unbelievable “chance” happenings which surprised everyone — especially musicians.

Richard Zimmerman, longtime performer, producer and advocate of ragtime, discovered that these revivals, and some of the seemingly miraculous events which enabled them, could be explained by the the fact that each revival had benefitted from previous ones and from a growing ragtime community.

In this presentation, Zimmerman relates some of the most amazing and mysterious ragtime events he has encountered, which could only be explained as luck, coincidence, or fate.