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Online Collections

Alexander's Ragtime Band.

sheet music


Hailed as "the musical sensation of the decade," "the theme-song of a generation," and even "a public menace," the hit song "Alexander's Ragtime Band" launched the career of 23-year-old composer Irving Berlin and the entire tradition of American popular song along with it. At a time when families and friends still gathered around the piano for musical entertainment, sheet music for Berlin's composition sold an astounding 1.5 million copies during the first year alone - more than any other song in history. Simple and memorable, the tune borrowed elements of ragtime, mixing them with a popular march form, even including musical quotations of popular American themes like the reveille bugle call and Stephen Foster's "Sewanee River." Early recordings by such diverse artists as blues singer Bessie Smith and the early mega-star Al Jolson only increased its popularity. "Alexander's Ragtime Band" was the making of Irving Berlin, who went on to pen a lifetime of America's most popular anthems: "White Christmas," "Easter Parade," "Puttin' on the Ritz," and, of course, "God Bless America."

Materialphotomechanical | chromolithographed paper
OriginNew York, NY
Object ID78.7577

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