"It was the cutting edge music at the turn of the century," said Strater Hotel's general manager, Michelle Thom.
Now, 125 years later, the hotel is hosting its first Ragtime and Jazz Festival. The festival started Friday and will continue through the weekend, with performances by musicians from throughout the country.
Thom said she met many of the musicians at a ragtime festival she attended in Sacramento, Calif., and she invited many of them to come to Durango. At the festival, local artists will also perform 30-minute sessions. Aztec resident and piano player Hoyle Osborne is among those scheduled to perform.
Osborne said he is excited to showcase his own style of ragtime at the festival. Listening and playing various types of music, such as folk music, has influenced Osborne's take on ragtime. He also adds styles that developed around the same time as ragtime in other parts of the world, such as Brazil and Trinidad.
He said he has come to understand ragtime as the American manifestation of musical styles throughout the world.
While the piano offers the ability to play solo, Osborne said he has found he likes to make music with other people better. He played in the Oak Room at the Strater Hotel on Friday and will play again today at noon.
Thom said ragtime music has the ability to appeal to people today, just as it did when it first gained popularity in the late 19th century.
"It's not just for older people," Thom said.
In addition to celebrating ragtime, the festival is also focusing on early jazz. The beats and rhythms of the ragtime music eventually inspired the early jazz musicians, Thom said.
"It's the base that built jazz as we know it today," Thom said.
For a schedule of events, go to www.durangoragtimefestival.com/schedule.
Tickets, which range from $25 to $40 each, are available online at Henry Strater Theatre or by calling the box office at 970-375-7160.
Hannah Grover may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 564-4652. Follow her on Twitter @hmgrover.