Scott Joplin


Scott Joplin (1867? – 1917), “The King of Ragtime”, wrote 44 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two operas. One of his first pieces, the Maple Leaf Rag, became ragtime’s first and most influential hit, and has been recognized as the archetypal rag. He was born into a musical African American family of laborers in Northeast Texas, and developed his musical knowledge with the help of local teachers, most notably Julius Weiss. While growing up in Texarkana he formed a vocal quartet, and taught mandolin and guitar. During the late 1880s he left his job as a laborer with the railroad, and travelled around the American South as an itinerant musician. He went to Chicago for the World’s Fair of 1893, which played a major part in making ragtime a national craze by 1897. In 1894 he moved to Sedalia, Missouri, and earned a living teaching piano and going on tour across the Southern US. During this period he taught future ragtime composers Arthur Marshall, Scott Hayden and Brun Campbell. Joplin began publishing music in 1895, and publication of his Maple Leaf Rag in 1899 brought him fame and had a profound influence on subsequent writers of ragtime. It also brought the composer a steady income for life. During his lifetime, Joplin did not reach this level of success again and frequently had financial problems. In 1901 he moved to St. Louis where he continued to compose and publish music, and regularly performed in brothels and bars in the city’s red-light district. By the time he had moved to St. Louis, Joplin may have been experiencing discoordination of the fingers, tremors, and an inability to speak clearly, as a result of having contracted syphilis. The score to his first opera, A Guest of Honor, was confiscated in 1903 with his belongings due to his non-payment of bills, and is considered lost. He continued to compose and publish music, and in 1907 moved to New York City, seeking to find a producer for a new opera. He attempted to go beyond the limitations of the musical form which made him famous, without much monetary success. His second opera, Treemonisha, was not received well at its partially staged performance in 1915. In 1916, suffering from tertiary syphilis and by consequence rapidly deteriorating health, Joplin descended into dementia. He was admitted to a mental institution in January 1917, and died there three months later at the age of 49. (Wikipedia)

Housed at: Internet Archive here &here
Underlying Work: PD 70 years (except “Joseph Lamb”) | Digital Copy: No Additional Rights
Download: MP3 here and here





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