Ragtime music, or as it is often called; Rag-time, is a style of music that was very popular between 1897 and 1918. What makes it so special is the syncopated rhythm together with a “chopped” or "ragged", rhythm pattern in the bass.
Ragtime was a dance music form found in the red-light districts of American cities such as St. Louis and New Orleans before it was being printed as popular sheet music for piano.
Scott Joplin is the most famous composer of rag-time pieces for piano. Often called "The King of Ragtime" his style of composing has been said to be an American equivalent of minuets, mazurkas or waltzes.
This style of music also influenced and inspired classical composers like Claude Debussy and Igor Stravinsky during the early 1900's.
Rag-time piano music should be played relatively slowly, but the pieces by Scott Joplin are still definitely not for beginners. The music may give you a worthy goal to work for, though!
For much easier, but great sounding arrangements, have a look at: Simply Joplin for Easy Piano (Amazon)
Here I have selected a few of Scott Joplin's most popular and somewhat easier, (although in their original form) rag-time pieces. The sheet music is in the public domain, so you can print for free and start playing immediately! Click on each link to open a PDF in a new window. Then you can just print it!
If you love Ragtime for piano and are looking for a sheet music with Scott Joplin's piano pieces, a really great edition is: