Virginia Eskin, pianist

Spring Beauties: The Ragtime ProjectSpring Beauties

The Ragtime Project
Virginia Eskin, piano


"Picking selections for this collection of new rags was like trying to choose candy from a chocolate sampler. As a kid I wanted to try them all - with the result that my brothers ended up with a lot of half eaten candy! Here I have been fortunate to receive a plenitude of challenging ragtime compositions. Polishing the music has not been easy: these composers don't write simple stuff, and many of these rags required me to put in overtime on practice - a good sign. I hope I have done justice to these living composers, whose works prove that ragtime music is alive and well."

Virginia Eskin


Trace the etymology of any great musical genre, and sooner or later you find its roots in the vernacular. It's insinuated into high art over time, until it's no longer distinguishable from it, like the dance forms that we think of as synonyms for Baroque instrumental music. Even so, it's not uncommon that a genre becomes identified with the composer who creates its first masterpieces, as Schubert is identified with the song cycle despite Beethoven's antecedent, or Chopin with the Waltz, despite Schubert's and others' dalliance with it. Certainly for the period of time over which we've been paying attention, say the past several hundred years, this has been going on, and the process continues today. In particular and apropos this group of recordings, 20th century composers have seized upon the 19th century American musical object called the "rag" -- that elegant genus of the musical miniature whose multi-cultural genealogy belies its popular attribution to Scott Joplin. Even if the turn-of-the-century entertainer, Ben Harney, was the first to popularize it, Joplin was by analogy its Schubert, and his classic school of ragtime admitted only two other principals, James Scott and Joseph Lamb.

from Notes by Michael Manning



Eighteen Rags!

  • Gunther Schuller: Sand Point Rag
  • Kenneth Laufer: Twelve Note Rag
  • Richard Zimmerman: Lost and Found Rag
  • Mark Kuss: Jump Cut Rag
  • Marjorie Merryman: Dog Day Rag
  • James Tenney: Tangled Rag
  • Martin Amlin: South End Rag
  • Henry Gilbert: Rag Bag, Op. 19
  • William Albright: Nightmare Fantasy Rag
  • Scott Wheeler: Calamity Rag
  • Scott Wheller: Fits and Starts Rag
  • Irving Berlin/Snyder: That Mysterious Rag-Characteristic Intermezzo
  • Brian Dykstra: Spring Beauties
  • William Albright: Behemoth Two-Step
  • Max Morath: Anchoria Leland
  • Stefan Kozinski: Maloney Rag
  • Judith Zaimont: Hesitation Rag
  • Richard St. Clair: Toccata Rag