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.