Monday, July 02, 2007

New Book Out

"The House That George Built," by Wilfrid Sheed:
"Alexander's Ragtime Band," Berlin's unstoppable 1911 hit, though not technically ragtime, introduced a fascinating syncopated rhythm that would revolutionize pop. "Whatever he'd heard as a boy in Harlem was part of him now," Sheed writes, claiming that this Russian-born, New York-bred son of a cantor did more than anyone "to secure the beachheads of the dance floor and the music rack" with his "semi-black and faintly Jewish melodies." Not bad for an "unschooled immigrant kid" who, though no world-class piano player, was heralded as a genius even by as high-minded a musical theorist as Igor Stravinsky.

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