The Sapho Rag (1909)
Last updated: 28.01.22
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Composer: J.R. Robinson Suppliers: dbe15.gif
Editor: Geoff Grainger Sextet S+D/A/T/T/B/GB(B)
Publisher: Ditty Box Enterprises Publication: DBE 553
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Length: approx. 3½ mins.
Sapho Rag was simultaneously Robinson's first published work and an immediate success - quite remarkable for a 17-year old! The composer respectfully dedicated this piece to "my friend Mr. Herman Fichtenberg, New Orleans, Louisiana". The title is assumed, tongue-in-cheek, by the editor to celebrate the Greek goddess of poetry, Sappho and it was deliberately misspelled by Quaker publisher John Stark in full knowledge of word's association with lesbianism. The cover of the original sheet music also reflects the editor's assumption in that it shows a demure maiden in silhouette clad in a modest, classic evening dress. Interestingly the canny publisher recycled this artwork some eleven years later for James Sylvester Scott's Modesty Rag (1920), subtitled "A Classic Rag".
As to the rag itself, it is in AABBCDEC form with a 4-bar introduction and a 4-bar interlude between the C- and D-strains. It is a free-flowing piece but one searches in vain for sapphics (verses in metre associated with Sappho). In this adaptation for recorder the core of the performance is borne by the treble voice - the descant here has for the most part to look intelligent whilst bar-counting and embroider important passages in the upper registers.
Sapho Rag was published by Stark Music Co, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.
A tempo of 80 crotchets/min. is suggested.
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