Home > Wind quintet > Scott Joplin's "Bethena" A Concert Waltz

Scott Joplin's "Bethena" A Concert Waltz

A Concert Waltz

Scott Joplin Arranged by Darrell Goforth
Year of composition
Darrell Goforth
Year of arrangement
Difficult (Grades 7+)
6 minutes
Ragtime music
Wind quintet

In June, 1904, Scott Joplin married his second wife, Freddie. Ten weeks later, Freddie was dead due to pneumonia.

Devastated both financially and emotionally, Joplin disappeared from view for several months. He reappeared in St. Louis, Missouri some months later and on March 6, 1905 published "Bethena".

Set in 3/4 time, it presents a somber theme alternating with variations in keys from G major, Bb major, F major, b minor and D major. It is a sadly poignant piece alternating with memories of happier times and the realisation that those times will never come again. Although written in waltz form, the influence of ragtime is still present.

"Bethena" is considered one of the best examples of the ragtime waltz and is a fitting memorial to Joplin’s brief but happy marraige.

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