Bob Strauss
August 02, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Since most people’s familiarity with ragtime begins and ends with the theme from The Sting (Scott Joplin’s 1902 ”The Entertainer”), Robert Winter’s Crazy For Ragtime is educational in the best sense, taking you through the genre’s military-march origins in the 1890s to its usurpation by jazz at the end of World War I. Along the way, musicologist Winter, a UCLA prof, plays piano renditions of 60 ragtime classics (including 17 by Joplin, the genre’s Mozart) and reproduces nearly 250 articles from its heyday (including a 1910 essay calling ragtime ”not only a putrid mushroom, but a monstrosity of the most hideous type”). Just think: Fifty years from now an enterprising scholar may assemble a similar project on punk. A

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