Ragtime Cabaret

Just before the turn of the 20th century, a unique musical form emerged in the United States. As African, European and American cultures blended, the first truly American musical genre was born, predating jazz.

For the next 20 years, an improvised music popular in the red light districts and saloons of cities like St. Louis and New Orleans gradually grew into a sophisticated, composed style – "ragtime." While the heyday of ragtime was short-lived, it is America's own music, and it could not have happened anywhere else at any other time in history.

Classically-trained pianist and ragtime enthusiast Jack Oliva explores the origins of ragtime music through history and song. Oliva, who is dean of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts, plays some of his ragtime favorites, from the first ragtime tune ever published to rarely heard compositions by Scott Joplin. "Ragtime Cabaret" takes you on a musical and cultural journey exploring the roots of ragtime music and the role of the music business itself.

The source for most of the colorful sheet music covers featured in "Ragtime Cabaret" is the Charles H. Templeton, Sr. Music Museum’s Digital Sheet Music Collection housed at the Mississippi State University Libraries' Special Collections. This collection contains almost 22,000 pieces dating back to 1865 with more than 5,000 pieces made available on the Internet for scholars, musicologists and music enthusiasts.


For those wanting a musical review, you can listen to full versions of the five songs here:

 Mississippi Rag (1897) - composed by W.H. Krell

 Whittling Remus (1900) - composed by Thomas Broady 

 Sunburst Rag (1909) - composed by James Scott 

 Euphonic Sounds (1909) - composed by Scott Joplin 

 Elite Syncopations (1902) - composed by Scott Joplin



Production of "Ragtime Cabaret" was made possible
in part by a grant from the Nebraska Arts Council.

This program is a project of NET Television and NET Radio. NET1 is a part of NET Television. NET Television and NET Radio are services of NET. Complete program schedules are available online from the netNebraska.org/television and netNebraska.org/radio pages.