Imagine – a retired doctor who made a second career of fictionalizing, researching, documenting, and presenting ragtime history! That was Larry Karp of Seattle, Washington, who set aside a noteworthy career in perinatal medicine to pursue his passion for writing. He died at age 77 on October 11, 2016, six months after publication of his major documentary work, Brun Campbell: The Original Ragtime Kid.
In earlier years, Larry had been vaguely familiar with the music and story of ragtime, though he was an authoritative collector of antique music boxes. Something about the youthful relationship between Scott Joplin and Brun Campbell in Sedalia caught his attention as he pondered subjects for a mystery novel. The Ragtime Kid, published in 2006, was followed by two sequels, creating what is now commonly referred to as the Ragtime Trilogy.
Larry consulted with me on how best to make it available to the ragtime community. With seemingly endless persistence, he assessed the massively complex and contradictory Brun and created a work that is itself now a model for biographical organization. He lived long enough to be able to say that the Brun Campbell book and recording project was one of the most exciting, fascinating, and satisfying works of
his life. I think of Larry as a person who at the beginning of his career vowed to “First do no harm,” and it seems, in the last part of his career, “Do much good.”
He became very fond of Sedalia, and he admired the respect it pays to Joplin, Campbell, and others with our annual ragtime festival. I thank everyone who has contributed to the Larry Karp Memorial Fund, a worthy gesture of thanks to a ragtime fan whose words on the printed page translates to music for all to hear. --David Reffkin, Festival Historian
Special Thanks to those who have donated to the Larry Karp Memorial Fund, including:
Carol Tillman, Dan Brown, Kelley Kaufman & Theodore Godlin, Chaney Capitol Mgmt., Mark & Mary Forster. Katherine Menefee, Peg Kehret, Margot Hall Sims, Betty W. Singer, Russ Nery, Michael Smith.
The historic contract to publish the Maple Leaf Rag was a major event in American music history. Joplin’s composition became the first ragtime best seller and ushered in the Ragtime Era of American popular music. The unique royalty contract itself was a milestone in the protection of intellectual property rights and went a long way toward stimulating what became known as Tin Pan Alley.
But it was also a major event in American race relations as a white businessman and the son of a slave entered a inter-racial partnership to publish a black man’s composition. Thus, this location at 114 E. Fifth Street marks the site of an important place where America’s music began!
Richard Dowling will perform a special showcase solo concert on Wednesday, May 31st to kick off the 36th Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival in Sedalia, Missouri.
Mr. Dowling’s Great Scott! Festival program will be a full-length solo recital featuring all six Joplin works used in the 1973 Oscar-winning movie The Sting, all five Joplin waltzes, all six Joplin marches, all eight of Joplin’s works written in collaboration with other composers, plus many rarely-heard Joplin works. The program will also feature two Audience Choice selections. Mr. Dowling will conclude his program with a magnificent solo piano transcription of A Real Slow Drag, the final number from Joplin’s opera Treemonisha.
Mr. Dowling will be the first pianist in history to perform the complete cycle of Scott Joplin’s 53 piano works in public at New York City’s Carnegie Hall On April 1, 2017 –– exactly 100 years to the day after Joplin’s passing. Mr. Dowling’s 3-CD set of The Complete Piano Works of Scott Joplin, recorded on a Steinway grand piano will be available for purchase in The Ragtime Store located in Liberty Center during the festival.
Thanks to donations by Larry Karp and David Almquist, the City of Sedalia and Missouri Dept of Transportation will unveil and dedicate commemorative street signs honoring Scott Joplin on Saturday, November 5 at 10AM in Sedalia's Liberty Center.
The following Monday, the signs will be installed at the intersection of US 50 and 65 (west end) as well as at Air Center Drive (east end). This post will be edited to include photos of the 'Scott Joplin Memorial Highway' signs once they're up.