Elite Syncopations is a 1902 ragtime composition by the black American composer Scott Joplin (c.1867-1917). It followed the publication of the Maple Leaf Rag (1899) – often described as ragtime’s first and most influential hit. Such was its popularity that Joplin was soon being described as the “King of Rag” – something which was unsurprisingly exploited by his publishers as this title is brandished on the original cover of Elite Syncopations. The cover also prominently features a well-dressed couple sitting on a treble staff looking down upon a cherub clutching a cymbal in each hand – reflecting plainly the title of the piece.
Elite Syncopations is one of his more popular works and it is also one of a handful of Joplin rags for which he recorded a piano roll. In 1974, the Royal Ballet, under director Kenneth MacMillan, created the ballet Elite Syncopations with Joplin’s music as its centrepiece but also including works by other ragtime composers of the era.