Waltz into the Week with Scott Joplin

sheet music cover of Scott Joplin's "Bethena - A Concert Waltz"

Ragtime music is often associated with duple meter pieces played at a march-like tempo. However, Ragtime repertoire is rich with beautiful waltzes. Look no further than the “King of Ragtime” Scott Joplin to hear some of the finest waltzes of the era. Here are a few of my favorites. For each waltz, I have included a solo piano performance as well as an arrangement for a larger ensemble.

Harmony Club Waltz (1896)

This is one of Joplin’s first published works. It begins with a brief introduction in 4/4 time, but quickly transitions into a waltz (3/4 time).

William Albright’s rendition of Harmony Club Waltz
J.S. Ritter’s arrangement of Harmony Club Waltz for flute and piano

Bethena – A Concert Waltz (1905)

This sentimental waltz was composed about a year after Joplin’s second wife passed away from pneumonia only ten weeks into their marriage. Some considered one of Joplin’s finest waltz.

Bethena as recorded by Joshua Rifkin on his first Scott Joplin Piano Rags album, which was an important catalyst for the Ragtime Revival of the 1970s.
Gunther Schuller’s arrangement of Bethenam as played by The New England Conservatory Ragtime Ensemble

Pleasant Moments (1909)

While this waltz is overshadowed by Joplin’s masterworks such as Bethena and Maple Leaf Rag, Pleasant Moments still offers a “bright and festive” listening experience that is pure Joplin.

Pleasant Moments as performed by pianist Cory Hall
The Southland Stingers’ rendition of Pleasant Moments


Bethena – Wikipedia
Joplin’s ‘Bethena’ Sounds As New As It Is Old – NPR
Scott Joplin : Bethena, A Concert Waltz – mfiles
Pleasant Moments Ragtime Waltz, for piano – allmusic.com

Learn More About Ragtime

This is a collection of the sources I have used for my research on ragtime. I am always looking for more places to learn, so please let me know if you have any recommendations.

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