Scott Joplin was a jazz pianist and composer who was known as the King of Ragtime. He composed over 40 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two operas. He was also a saloon owner. His music is widely recognized and a lot of people enjoy listening to it.
Scott Joplin Was a Ragtime Composer
As an American pianist and composer, Scott Joplin was a pivotal figure in the development of ragtime music. His music blended classical musical structures with African American melodies. Joplin’s music opened the door for black artists to have a successful career in a racially segregated nation.
While growing up, Scott was helped by his mother to raise his siblings and always pursued his musical passion. In his late teens, Joplin lived briefly in Sedalia, Missouri. At some point, he moved back to Texarkana but eventually left for good.
Despite his tragic death at the age of thirty, his music endured and influenced many musicians. Hollywood and classical music found his music inspiring, and he published a tutorial on how to play ragtime on his own in 1908. In the 1970s, Joshua Rifkin recorded an album of Joplin’s ragtime for Nonesuch Records. This album is still considered one of the greatest recordings of ragtime music.
Joplin spent the first part of his career as a traveling musician. He was able to gain some popularity in Chicago and also formed his first band there. In 1893, Joplin also created his first opera company, which included 30 musicians, and staged the production of “A Guest of Honor.” Unfortunately, the production ended in failure. During this time, box office receipts were stolen.
He Was an African American Musician
Joplin started his music career at a young age in Texarkana, TX, learning classical music from his German neighbor. After his schooling, he became an itinerant piano player, the chief form of employment for black musicians. After settling in St. Louis, Joplin played at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago and later in Sedalia, MO. He also opened his own teaching studio there.
Joplin came from a poor family, the second of six children. His parents both played instruments and encouraged his interest in music. As a child, he took lessons on the piano from his German music teacher, Julius Weiss. He developed a passion for music and was equally adept at playing the piano and cornet. He was also a talented singer and composer, and was eventually awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize.
As an African-American, Joplin struggled with racial prejudice. Although he was a talented musician, he was largely ignored and marginalized in his time. As such, he often performed in venues that were not open to black people. He wrote many popular rags but struggled to earn enough money to publish his more complex compositions.
He Was a Saloon Owner
Scott Joplin was born in Sedalia, Missouri, a small town about three-quarters the way from Kansas City. Its rapid growth was due to railroads, which split the town into two sides, white and African-American. In the 1890s, there were three saloons in Sedalia: the Opera House, the Maple Leaf, and the Black 400 Club.
Scott Joplin’s mother was a free-born African-American woman, and his father was a former slave from North Carolina. His mother, Florence Givens, was a cleaner, and she played the banjo in her spare time. The Joplin family were not particularly wealthy, so they lived modestly, and they encouraged him to pursue music.
As a teenager, Joplin was making money as an itinerant musician. His songs would shape a brand new American sound. He eventually opened his own saloon in New York City.
He Died in 1917
Scott Joplin’s first major composition was the 1899 ragtime opera, “Maple Leaf Rag.” His success with this work earned him a life-long royalty that was equal to 26 cents on each sale. However, he did not experience the same level of success throughout his life and frequently had financial problems. He was also a victim of syphilis, and he died of the disease at the age of 44 in 1917.
Joplin moved to New York City in 1907 and began searching for a producer for his new opera, “Scott Joplin and His Orchestra.” By 1916, he had developed neurosyphilis and was nearly unable to perform. His death in 1917 left a significant void in the world of musical performance. The musical genre had begun to transition from ragtime to jazz and stride, and Scott Joplin’s death ushered in the era of swing music.
Joplin’s legacy continued to influence musical production and culture, and he was recognized with a posthumous Pulitzer Prize in 1976. While he may not be alive today, his legacy lives on in the form of countless films and re-recorded recordings.