Ragtime music first appeared in the early part of the 20th century, rising in the 1890's and fading away by 1920. It is one of the first purely American musical syles and has strong African-American influences.
Originally created by professional performers in honky-tonks and saloons, 'ragtime' evolved as a distinct style through the years as piano players began to compete with each other.
Scott Joplin, James Scott & Joseph Lamb have been given the title of "Three Fathers of American Ragtime", a title they richly deserved.
The king of ragtime music writers, Scott Joplin brought ragtime to its classic form. An American composer and pianist, he was one of the most important developers of ragtime music. He elevated the "piano rag" to an artistic level unmatched before or since.
Born in Texarkana, Texas, Joplin taught himself to play the piano as a child, learning mostly classical music from a German neighbour. In his late teens he became an itinerant pianist in the low-life districts that provided the chief employment for many of the local black musicians.
He settled in St. Louis in 1885. In 1893 he played at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago,and in 1894 he moved to Sedalia, Missouri.
Scott Joplin published his first piece of music, 'Please Say You Will' in 1895.
He studied music theory and composition there and he published (in 1899) his 'Original Rags' and 'Maple Leaf Rag' and opened a teaching studio.
Joplin was married twice, first to Belle Hayden. Their only child, a daughter died as a baby, and the pair separated soon after. He moved to New York City in 1907 where he married his second wife Lottie Stokes.
In 1911, at his own expense, he published his ragtime opera called 'Treemonisha', a work intended to go beyond ragtime to create an indigenous black American opera. Staged in a concert version in 1915, it failed with the audience, leaving the composer's spirit permanently broken. He died two years later (1917). Treemonisha eventually premiered in 1972 at the Atlanta Symphony Hall to great acclaim and was finally produced on Broadway. Considered the first truly American opera, it was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1976.
To visit a great site that has the entire Treemonisha musical score including a large number of playable selections Click Here
Joplin's ragtime music underwent a huge revival after some of his compositions, including 'The Entertainer' (1902), were used as the background music in the film "The Sting" (1973). It remains popular to this day.
Scott Joplin died at age forty-nine, from advanced syphilis. He was buried on Long Island in an unmarked grave, but his grave now reads "Scott Joplin, American Composer"
|The Music of Scott Joplin |
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More of Scott Joplin's music will be added as time permits
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