Joseph Francis Lamb was an American composer of ragtime music. Lamb, of Irish descent, was the only non-African American of the “Big Three” composers of classical ragtime, the other two being Scott Joplin and James Scott. The ragtime of Joseph Lamb ranges from standard popular fare to complex and highly engaging. His use of long phrases was influenced by classical works he had learned from his sister and others while growing up, but his sense of structure was potentially derived from his study of Joplin’s piano rags. By the time he added some polish to his later works in the 1950s, Lamb had mastered the classic rag genre in a way that almost no other composer was able to approach at that time, and continued to play it passably as well, as evidenced by at least two separate recordings done in his home, as well as a few recorded interviews.
About Joseph Lamb
The only non-African American of classical ragtime’s “Big Three.” The other two were James Scott and Scott Joplin. He became known for subverting ragtime’s usual four-measure phrase structure.
He taught himself how to play the piano at a very early age. He was employed by a dry goods company after quitting St. Jerome’s College in 1904.
His career was made when Joplin highly recommended him to ragtime publisher John Stark. His first published work was “Sensation.” Joplin arranged it for the printing.
He was the youngest of four children. He married Henrietta Schultz in 1911.
His music was featured on the January 29, 2000, edition of “A Prairie Home Companion,” with host Garrison Keillor relating biographical details of Lamb’s life.
Information related to Joseph Lamb (composer)
- Ragtime pianists
- Ragtime composers
- Composers for piano
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