Botsford – Black & White Rag

FP320 George Botsford Black and White Rag Two Flutes and Piano Grade 7 4′ 30″ with repeats

The American composer George Botsford (1874 – 1949) specialised in ragtime and other light music forms. He was born in South Dakota, raised in Iowa and later moved to New York City. His earliest pieces, such as Dear Old Arizona and Pride of the Prairie, reflected wide open spaces. Once in the metropolis, however, his music took on more “bustle” and in 1908 his most famous piece Black and White Rag appeared.

Botsford had success as a band leader and arranger, but it was as a composer of rag based pieces that he made the greatest impact. These were tremendously fashionable in the years before the Great War and brought sufficient financial reward for him to start his own publishing company. Incidentally, it was the appearance of his (Doin’ ) The Grizzly Bear, that started a craze for dance music with animal titles. The most enduring of these has been the foxtrot.

Black and White Rag has proved to have a longevity far in excess of the other Botsford works. The recording of the piece by Winifred Atwell on her honky-tonk piano has undoubtedly helped in keeping the piece in front of the public. The same performance was used as the theme music for Pot Black, the hugely popular snooker program on BBC2, which didn’t hurt either.

The foreword, from which the foregoing is taken, contains invaluable suggestions on several aspects of performance and concludes that when the work has been done…”the final result will be worth it; this piece is a real toe-tapping foot-stomper”.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Have a listen to Black and White Rag

Click on
June Emerson Wind Music
to order a hard copy of this music
(opens in a new tab)