Shortly after the wild success of the Maple Leaf Rag, Tin Pan Alley quickly published hundreds of mostly third rate rags that overshadowed superior works by Scott Joplin, Eubie Blake, Jelly Roll Morton and Co. Yes, Irving Berlin ("Alexander's Ragtime Band") and Zez Confrey ("Kitten on the Keys") wrote first rate ragtime stuff, but they were the exceptions in a sea of mediocrity.

By 1917, things were changing. Europe was enmeshed in the Great War, Scott Joplin was ill and ragtime's stepchild, "jass" was coming into its own. As America entered World War I, Scott Joplin died. Yet, ragtime never really went away. And the next generation of Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Co. were weaned on it. And when Joplin's music turned "The Sting" into a hit movie, Joplin once again became an American treasure, like Chopin to Poland and Mozart to Vienna.

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