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Bargy, Roy F(rederick)locked

  • David Thomas Roberts

(b Newaygo, MI, July 31, 1894; d Vista, CA, Jan 16, 1974). American composer and pianist. He began to study piano at the age of five in Toledo, Ohio. By the time he was 17 he had discarded his ambitions to become a concert pianist, having become fascinated with ragtime pianists in Toledo’s red-light district, including the famous exponent of eastern ragtime Luckey Roberts. After playing professionally in cinemas and organizing a dance band, he was engaged in 1919 by the ragtime composer Charley Straight to edit, play, arrange and compose for Imperial Player Rolls. Bargy’s association with Straight led to his acquaintance with the agent Edgar Benson, who assembled a band directed by Bargy to record for Victor. Bargy later joined Isham Jones’s orchestra for two years and, in 1928, began a 12-year association with Paul Whiteman’s band, for which he is best remembered today. Later he served as conductor and arranger for Larry Ross’s radio show, and from 1943 he was music director for Jimmy Durante, a position he held until his retirement 20 years later.

Bargy is noted for his contribution to the ragtime-based style of novelty piano. Like the work of his contemporary Zez Confrey, his compositions may be viewed as advanced rags: he routinely employed 10ths in the bass (a feature more readily associated with early jazz than ragtime), but favoured right-hand patterns found in ragtime of the 1910s, recalling at times the work of Straight and the classic ragtime composer James Scott. Although Bargy’s works are not as ambitious or imaginative as Confrey’s, they represent a charming recasting of the language of midwestern ragtime in the more vivacious mode of the late 1910s and the 1920s.


(selective list)

unless otherwise stated, all are printed works for pf published in Cleveland

Rufenreddy (collab. C. Straight) (1921)

Slipova (1921)

Knice and Knifty (collab. Straight) (1922)

Sunshine Caper (1922)

Behave Yourself (1922)

Jim Jams (1922)

Justin-tyme (1922)

Pianoflage (1922)

Sweet and Tender (Chicago, 1923)

A Blue Streak; Omeomy


  • D.A. Jasen: Recorded Ragtime, 1897–1958 (Hamden, CT, 1973)
  • D.A. Jasen and T.J. Tichenor: Rags and Ragtime: a Musical History (New York, 1978)