b. 22 April 1944, New York, New York, USA. A pianist, musicologist, arranger and conductor, Rifkin was instrumental in reviving interest in the important composer of ragtime music, Scott Joplin. During the 60s, Rifkin studied at the Juilliard School of Music, New York University, Gottingen University and Princeton; and worked on composition with Karl-Heinz Stockhausen in Darmstadt. At the same time, he played ragtime and piano jazz, and recorded for Elektra Records as a member of the Even Dozen Jug Band. Also for Elektra, he conducted The Baroque Beatles, classical-style versions of John Lennon and Paul McCartney songs. He also arranged and conducted Wildflowers, and other recordings for Judy Collins. In 1970 he was appointed Professor of Music at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, and musical director of the Elektra ancillary, Nonesuch Records. The following year, the Lincoln Centre produced the highly successful An Evening With Scott Joplin, at which Rifkin was a featured artist. From 1970-74, he released a series of three Piano Rags By Scott Joplin, which won Stereo Review and Billboard awards as Record Of The Year, and coincided with the release of the movie The Sting (1973), whose soundtrack featured ‘The Entertainer’ and several other Joplin tunes, arranged by another Juilliard ‘old boy’, Marvin Hamlisch. The movie won seven Academy Awards, and, together with Rifkin’s albums and the work of Gunther Schuller’s New England Conservatory Jazz Repertory Orchestra And Ragtime Ensemble, sparked off a nationwide revival of Joplin’s works. Subsequently, Rifkin worked a good deal in the classical field, conducting concerts and releasing several albums. He was also at the forefront of the move to revitalize vintage recordings of ragtime music by the digital process.
- New York, NY
- Apr 22, 1944