The Cactus Rag

Lucian P. Gibson is only known to have composed three works, one of which is The Cactus Rag, published by Stark Music Company in 1916. It is noticeably derivative of Artie Matthews’ Pastime Rags (especially No. 3, the habanera), but is also unique and inventive. Observe the “prickly” right hand chord clusters (shown above)! Like Robert Hampton’s 1914 Cataract Rag (also published by Stark Music Company), The Cactus Rag is a virtuoso study in octaves.

I first encountered The Cactus Rag in the now-defunct Dover Publications anthology Ragtime Rarities. The score for the piece can be downloaded from several places on the internet, including Ted Tjaden’s website on the “rare rags” subpage. Lucian P. Gibson’s biographical information can be found on Bill Edwards’ website

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Brandon Byrne is a ragtime composer, performer, and scholar. Max Morath said of Byrne, “Brandon’s unique compositions display unparalleled gifts and hidden virtuosity. His music reflects the past and challenges the future. His playing will touch your soul.” For a full list of his compositions, please visit his website.

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