Ragtime and Anti-Bolshevism <br>http://dx.doi.org/10.5429/2079-3871(2011)v2i1-2.8en


  • Brian Holder Santa Fe College/University of Florida




ragtime, Bolshevism, parody, Rachmaninoff


In 1918 the popular composer George Cobb published his “Russian Rag” – a ragtime rendition of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C# Minor. This work embodied the social and political concerns of the era, specifically global radicalism, immigration from Eastern Europe, and the use of ragtime as musical parody. Through an examination of this and other period works it can be shown that ragtime and popular song were used as a medium to conceptualize and transmit these concepts. Furthermore, this literature exhibits the rapid evolution of mainstream discourse on Russian immigrant culture in the years that followed the First World War.


Bergman, Marion. 1947. The Russian-American Song and Dance Book. A.S. Barnes and Company, New York.

Clendenen, Leslie F. 1919. The Art of Dancing: Its Theory and Practice. Arcade Print Shop, St. Louis.

Jasen, David A. 1988. Tin Pan Alley, The Composers, The Songs, The Performers and Their Time, D.I. Fine, New York.

Londré, Felicia Hardison. 2007. The Enchanted Years of the Stage: Kansas City at the Crossroads of American Theater, 1870-1930, University of Missouri Press, Columbia.

McCann, Paul. 2008. “Performing Primitivism: Disarming the Social Threat of Jazz in Narrative Fiction of the Early Twenties”. The Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 41, No. 4: pp. 658-675.

New York Times. 1919. “Beat Bolshevism In Its Best Field”, 28 December, E2.

New York Times, 1919. “Bolshevism And Russians Here”, 15 June, 38.

New York Times. 1924. “Election Pleases Sir Henry Lunn”, 31 October, 10.

Tichenor, Trebor. 1978. Rags and Ragtime, a Musical History, Seabury Press, New York.

Vermazen, Bruce. 2004. That Moaning Saxophone: The Six Brown Brothers and the Dawning of a Musical Craze, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Wellstood, Dick. 1997. Dick Wellstood Live at the Sticky Wicket, Arbors Jazz.






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