The Red Back Book

The real title of this collection of band arrangemments is "Standard High-Class Rags", published by the Stark Music Company of St. Louis 1911 or1912. The among musicians popular name came from the red color of the front and back page. There existed folios for flute/piccolo, clarinet, cornet, trombone, 1st and 2nd violin, cello, bass, piano and drums. John S. Stark had chosen rags for this collection which he had already successfully published as piano rags, especially from his composer star Scott Joplin and James Scott. The orchestrations follow strictly the piano compositions. In a few cases keys were chosen which are more convenient for the wind instruments than the original keys. The fifteen "classical" rags of the collection are:

  1. Maple Leaf Rag, Scott Joplin
  2. The Cascades, Scott Joplin
  3. The Easy Winners, Scott Joplin
  4. The Ragtime Dance, Scott Joplin
  5. The Chrysanthemum, Scott Joplin
  6. African Pas', Maurice Kirwin
  7. Ophelia Rag, James Scott
  8. Hilarity Rag, James Scott
  9. The Minstrel Man, J. Russel Robinson
  10. Frog Legs Rag, James Scott
  11. Sensation, Joseph Lamb
  12. Kinklets, Arthur Marshall
  13. Grace And Beauty, James Scott
  14. Sunflower Slow Drag, Scott Joplin - Scott Hayden
  15. The Entertainer, Scott Joplin

The adjective "classic" was used by John S. Stark for the rags of his most important composers Scott Joplin and James Scott and their protégés in his advertisements. He tried to shelter them against the mass production of New York's tin pan alley. The collection must have been well known among the musicians. For example the New Orleans trumpet player Bunk Johnson had a complete set of the music for all instruments. Bill Russel, who made the first recording sessions with Bunk after his rediscovering from 1942 on, kept the book in his collection. For his last recording Sessions between 23rd and 26th of December 1947 with Ed Cuffee (tb), Garvin Bushell (cl), Don Kirkpatrick (p), Danny Barker (g), Wellman Braud (b) and Alphonse Steele (dr), known by Collectors as "Bunk's Last Testament", Bunk chose four titles out of twelve from the "Red Back Book": Hilarity Rag, The Minstrel Man, Kinklets and The Entertainer.

To download facsimile editions of books for "Flute & Piccolo", "1st Clarinet", "1st Cornet", "2nd Cornet" (uncomplete),"Trombone", "1st Violin", "2nd Violin", "Viola" (uncomplete), "Cello", "Bass", "Piano" (acc.) and "Drums" please use the links.

Klaus Pehl, Bonn, 11.08.21