At the turn of the century, the average worker earned twenty-two cents an hour.  Sheet music and player pianos began selling in substantial quantities.  Sheet music in the 1890s was expensive and it was common to find a copy of a popular song selling for as much as two dollars.  After 1900, cheaper ways to print music were found and gradually booming sales brought along the twenty-five cent song sheet.

In 1899, Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" became the first Ragtime composition to become a sheet music best-seller, detonating an explosion which made Ragtime the big noise in American music.

Jazz flourished in Storyville, the red light district in New Orleans.  Buddy Bolden is often credited for being the first of the great Jazz figures -- "the blowingest man since Gabriel."  He ushered in an era which saw a long succession of artists who helped make New Orleans the capitol of Jazz.

Jelly Roll Morton's musical history began in 1902 when he was seventeen and visited one of New Orlean's more celebrated night spots. 

Phonographs and gramophones were making their way into the home.  At first, all sound recordings were made by the acoustic process, without amplification or electricity.  The musician had to play or sing directly into the recording horn.  Electric recording with microphones and amplifiers replaced the acoustic process after 1925.

Medicine shows in the late 19th and early 20th centuries provided exposure for mountain music.  The good doctor sold sure-fire cures for ailments to the sound of southern rural musicians turning Anglo-Irish ballads into a uniquely American music.  The hillbilly music heard at barn raisings, quilting parties, log rollings, and fiddle conventions was soon to become (with the help of radio in the 1920s) the multi-million dollar Country Music Industry.

The ragtime music from New Orleans and St. Louis exploded at the end of the decade, influencing the likes of Irving Berlin who said, "Syncopation is the soul of every true American. Ragtime is the best heart-raiser and worry-banisher I know."

Preview Today's Double Feature

This piano began its journey in New York City in the 1890s.
On October 1, 2018 it found its way to me. This is our story.


The Oldest Piano In Town (23:16)


The Road To Tomorrow (22:43)


By Carl P. McConnell




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