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Scott Joplin

Scott Joplin was "the King of Ragtime Writers," a composer who elevated "banjo piano playing," a lowly entertainment associated with saloons and brothels, into an American art form loved by millions. Born in Texas in either 1867 or 1868, Joplin was raised in Texarkana, the son of a laborer and former slave. As a child, Joplin taught himself piano on an instrument belonging to a white family that granted him access to it, and ultimately studied with a local, German-born teacher who introduced Joplin to classical music. Joplin attended high school in Sedalia, MO, a town that would serve as Joplin's home base during his most prosperous years, and where a museum now bears his name.

In 1891, the first traceable evidence of Joplin's music career is found, placing him in a minstrel troupe in Texarkana. In 1893, he played in Chicago during the Columbian Exposition was held, reportedly leading a band with a cornet. Afterward, Joplin settled in Sedalia, worked with other brass bands and founding a vocal group called the Texas Medley Quartette. During an 1895 appearance in Syracuse, NY, the quality of Joplin's original songs for the Texas Medley Quartette so impressed a group of local businessmen that they arranged for Joplin's first publications. Around 1896, Joplin enrolled in Sedalia's George R. Smith College for Negroes to study formally, publishing a few more pieces in the years to follow.

In 1899, publisher John Stark of Sedalia issued Joplin's second ragtime composition, "Maple Leaf Rag." It didn't catch on like wildfire immediately, but within a few years the popularity of "Maple Leaf Rag" was so enormous that it made Joplin's name; and Joplin earned a small percentage of income from it for the rest of his days, helping to stabilize him in his last years. By the end of 1899, Joplin presented his first ambitious work, the ballet The Ragtime Dance, at the Wood Opera House in Sedalia. It didn't appear in print until 1902, and then only in a truncated form. Joplin moved to St. Louis in 1901, as did Stark, who set his new publishing venture up as "The House of Classic Rags." Joplin wrote many of the other rags he is known for during this time, including "The Entertainer," "The Easy Winners," and "Elite Syncopations."

In 1903, Joplin organized a touring company to perform his first opera, A Guest of Honor, which foundered after a couple of months, leaving Joplin destitute. He had recovered well enough to appear at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair to present his rag "The Cascades," which proved his second great success. Joplin also married for a second time to a woman who died only a few weeks into their marriage after a bout with pneumonia, plunging Joplin into another bout of despair. During a visit to Chicago in 1907 he renewed an acquaintance with the St. Louis pianist Louis Chauvin, who did not long outlast the visit. Joplin utilized a strain drawn from Chauvin's playing into the finest of his "collaborative" rags, "Heliotrope Bouquet." This was published after Joplin moved to New York in 1907. Stark had also resettled there, and they resumed their partnership to some degree, but Joplin also published through Seminary Music, likewise home to aspiring songwriter Irving Berlin. Through Seminary many of the best of his late works appeared, such as "Pine Apple Rag," the transparently beautiful "Mexican serenade" "Solace," and the harmonically adventurous "Euphonic Sounds."

From 1911 until his death in 1917 most of Joplin's efforts went into his second opera, Treemonishia, which he heard in concert but never managed to stage during his own lifetime. With his third wife, Lotte Joplin, Joplin formed his own music company and published his final piano rag, "Magnetic Rag" (1914), one of his best. By this time, debilitating, long-term effects of syphilis were beginning to break down Joplin's health, although he did manage to make seven hand-played piano rolls in 1916 and 1917; though heavily edited, these rolls are as close as one is likely to get to hearing Joplin's own playing. One of them is W.C. Handy's "Ole Miss Rag," which suggests that Joplin might have had a hand in its composition or arrangement. Joplin was tireless and selfless in his advocacy of his fellow ragtime composers, collaborating with James Scott, Arthur Marshall, Louis Chauvin, and Scott Hayden and helping to arrange others by Artie Matthews and the white New Jersey composer Joseph Lamb, whose work Joplin pitched to Stark.

"Maple Leaf Rag" remained a constant in popular music throughout the Jazz Age, but the better part of Joplin's work remained unknown until the "ragtime revival" of the early '70s, during which "Scott Joplin" became a household name and Treemonishia was finally staged by the Houston Grand Opera. Although primary sources on Joplin's music were still extant as late as the late '40s, today not a single manuscript page in Joplin's hand still exists and only three photographs of him have survived, along with precious few first-hand quotations. Joplin died in a mental facility convinced that he had failed in his mission to achieve success as an African-American composer of serious music. Were he alive today, Joplin would be astounded to learn that, a century after his work was first printed, he is the most successful African-American composer of serious music that ever lived -- by far. Some of his works have been recorded hundreds of times and arranged for practically every conceivable instrumental combination, played by everything from symphony orchestras to ice cream trucks. For a couple of generations of Americans who have even never heard of Stephen Foster, the music of Scott Joplin represents the old, traditional order of all things American. ~ Uncle Dave Lewis
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Piano Rolls

1. Maple Leaf Rag (Uni-Record Melody)

2. Ole Miss Rag

3. The Entertainer

4. Something Doing

5. Pineapple Rag

6. Weeping Willow Rag

7. Easy Winner

8. Magnetic Rag

9. Maple Leaf Rag

x

Track List: Ragtime Piano Roll

1. The Entertainer

2. Maple Leaf Rag

3. Original Rags

4. Pleasant Moments

5. Shoptime Rag

6. The Chrysanthemum

7. Heliotrope Bouquet

8. Wall Street Rag

9. The Ragtime Dance

10. The Cascades

11. Solace

12. Bethena

13. The Easy Winners

14. Weeping Willow

15. Pine Apple Rag

16. Fig Leaf Rag

17. Scott Joplin's New Rag

18. Sugar Cane

19. The Strenuous Life

20. Felicity Rag

x

Track List: Ragtimes

1. Original Rags

2. Maple Leaf Rag

3. Peacherine Rag

4. The Easy Winners (A Ragtime Two-Step)

5. A Breeze From Alabama (March And Two-Step)

6. Elite Syncopations

7. The Strenuous Life (A Ragtime Two-Step)

8. The Entertainer (A Ragtime Two-Step)

9. Cleopha (March And Two-Step)

10. Weeping Willow (A Ragtime Two-Step)

11. Palm Leaf Rag

12. The Favorite (A Ragtime Two-Step)

14. The Sycamore (A Concert Rag)

15. The Cascades

16. Eugenia (A Rag)

17. Leola (Two-Step)

18. Bethena (A Concert Waltz)

19. Antoinette (March And Two-Step)

20. The Ragtime Dance (A Stop-Time Two-Step)

x

Track List: Rags To Riches: The Essential Hits Of Scott Joplin

1. Original Rags

2. Maple Leaf Rag

3. Easy Winners

4. Elite Syncopations

5. The Entertainer

6. The Cascades

7. Bethena

8. Leola

9. Gladiolas

10. Searchlight

11. Fig Leaf Rag

12. Sugar Cane

13. Euponic Sounds

14. Paragon Rag

15. Solace

16. Wall Street Rag

17. Treemonisha

18. Maple Leaf Rag

x

Track List: King Of Ragtime Writers (From Classic Piano Rolls)

1. Cascades

2. The Strenuous Life

3. Felicity Rag

4. Swipesy

5. Peacherine Rag

6. Something Doing

7. Search Light

8. Rose Leaf Rag

9. Fig Leag Rag

10. Rag Medley No. 6/Pineapple Rag, Euphonic Sounds

11. Palm Leaf Rag

12. Kismet Rag

13. Wall Street Rag

14. Pleasant Moments

15. Original Rags

16. Sunflower Slow Drag

17. Maple Leaf Rag

x

Track List: The Entertainer

1. Maple Leaf Rag

2. Something Doing

3. Weeping Willow Rag

4. The Entertainer

5. The Easy Winners

6. Pine Apple Rag

7. Solace

8. Gladiolus Rag

9. The Ragtime Dance

10. Sugar Cane

11. The Crush Collision March

12. Bethena (A Concert Waltz)

13. Combination March

14. A Breeze Fom Alabama

x

Track List: The Piano Rags

1. The Entertainer

2. Originall Rags

3. Cascades

4. Maple Leaf Rag

5. Stoptime Rag

6. Easy Winner

7. Weeping Willow Rag

8. Magnetic Rag

9. Solace

10. Sugercane

11. Kismet Rag

12. Pineapple Rag

x

Track List: Ragtime With Scott Joplin

1. The Entertainer

2. Maple Leaf Rag

3. Elite Syncopations

4. The Ragtime Dance

5. Easy Winners

6. Weeping Willow Rag

7. The Cascades

8. A Breeze From Alabama

9. The Favorite

10. Gladiolus Rag

11. Cleopha

x

Track List: His Greatest Hits: Richard Zimmerman Piano

1. The Entertainer

2. Maple Leaf Rag

3. Swipsey

4. Sunflower Slow Drag

5. The Easy Winners

6. Ragtime Dance

7. The Cascades

8. Bethena

9. Gladiolus Rag

10. Heliotrope Bouquet

11. Fig Leaf Rag

12. Pine Apple Rag

13. Solace

14. Euphonic Sounds

15. Stoptime Rag

16. Scott Joplin's New Rag

x

Track List: The Scott Joplin Collection

1. The Entertainer

2. Maple Leaf Rag

3. The Favourite

4. Pine Apple Rag

6. Cascades

7. Peacherine Rag

8. Pleasant Moments

9. The Strenuous Life

10. Sugar Cane

11. Weeping Willow Rag

12. Rose Leaf Rag

13. Combination March

14. The Ragtime Dance

15. Felicity Rag

16. Country Club Rag

17. Elite Syncopations

18. Swipesy

19. Magnetic Rag

20. Nonpareil

x

Track List: The Complete Rags Of Scott Joplin

Disc 1

1. Maple Leaf Rag

2. Original Rags

3. The Favorite

4. The Easy Winners

5. Peacherine Rag

6. The Entertainer

7. The Strenuous Life

8. Elite Syncopations

9. A Breeze from Alabama

10. Palm Leaf Rag

11. Weeping Willow

12. The Cascades

13. The Sycamore

14. The Chrysanthemum

15. Leola

16. Eugenia

Disc 2

1. The Ragtime Dance

2. Nonpareil

3. Reflection Rag

4. Gladiolus Rag

5. Searchlight Rag

6. Rose Leaf Rag

7. Pine Apple Rag

8. Fig Leaf Rag

9. Sugar Cane

10. Country Club

11. Paragon Rag

12. Wall Street Rag

13. Euphonic Sounds

14. Solace

15. Stoptime Rag

16. Scott Joplin's New Rag

17. Silver Swan Rag

18. Magnetic Rag

x

Track List: Elite Syncopations

1. Maple Leaf Rag

2. Ole Miss Rag

3. Magnetic Rag

4. Elite Syncopations

5. Country Club

6. Paragon Rag

7. Eugenia

8. Cleopha

9. A Real Slow Drag

10. Scott Joplin's New Rag

11. Leola - Two Step

12. Lily Queen

13. The Chrysanthemum

14. Heliotrope Bouquet

15. Reflection Rag

16. Silver Swan Rag, Ragtime Two-Step

x

Track List: The Sting

1. Solace (Orchestra Version)

2. The Entertainer (Orchestra Version)

3. Easy Winners

4. Hooker's Hooker

5. Luther

6. Pine Apple Rag/Gladiolus Rag

7. The Entertainer (Piano Version)

8. The Glove

9. Little Girl (Violin Solo)

10. Pine Apple Rag

11. Merry-Go-Round Music

12. Solace

13. The Entertainer/Rag Time Dance

Comments

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The Entertainer - my favorite Scott Joplin song. and yours too. !
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No one could play the piano like Scott Joplin
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garammasala1 9 6 8
This music is so uplifting.
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Saw it. Great!
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I recommend the movie “Scott Joplin" it is very interesting and hammers the life of the great composer Scott Joplin. Billy de Williams is Scott joplin and since it was made in 1979 it features Eubie Blake! Also John Stark, Scott Joplin's publisher is in but not the real person recommend it!!


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They don't play music like this any more...how tragic, what a pity.
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none anything lie the famous Sousa marches I want those rousing marches please
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Ok the definitive version of Solace is on The Sting soundtrack. They should just retire it. I liked Strickland's performance of some of the other pieces on this CD but Solace should not have the internal organs removed just because it's slow.
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Very sensitive performance.
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He did introduced me to this music niche..
Thanx
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Solace on this album is not the Solace famously from The Sting and for which I have sheet music. Anyone have an explanation for this ?
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Good
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Scott Joplin is AMAZING and THE BEST in my book!!! But man he died of syphilis what a bummer that is man.
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Scott Joplin best composer In my book
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I really love Scott Joplin's music! Btw I agree with comic9 except for the language...= - O
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Can listen to Scott Joplin all day. Wonderful !!!
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wadelainie
~scham
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wadelainie
I played the entertainer by scott joplin arr. john scam
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gdhx1
My grandfather played for Scott Joplin in Sedalia, Missouri when he was a young man (one time deal, not in a group). He met SJ when he (SJ)was nearly blind, but the family history has it that Grandfather was a very good pianist and was going to learn organ for the Church next, but he got hooked on that Ragtime. I don't remember if this was in a bar or a cathouse, but it is probably true as Sedalia was a very small place in turn of the century Missouri and everyone knew everyone else. Grandfat
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jonbtepper I'm with you. RG
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Nostalgia revisited... l i f e is good mmmm!
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I think most, sadly, play ragtime too fast. Joplin himself cautioned about that.
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Love it!
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jonbtepper
I remember buying the Scott Joplin w/Joshua Rifkin album with I was in college in 1971, as recommended by my girlfriend. It was a real eye-opener. Learning Joplin's personal history makes the music all the more important, and poignant. WHen The Sting came out in 1974, I was jumping for joy...that Joplin's rags were reaching a huge new audience, as the music deserved.
Report as inappropriate
I remember when The Sting came out. Never saw the movie but I loved the music on the trailers for it, and I have been a Joplin fan ever since. He had an amazing level of talent.
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YOU SHOULD ERASE THE COMMENT ABOUT DYING TOMORROW ETC... I REALLY RESENT READING SOME A**HOLE TRYING TO SCARE PEOPLE LIKE THAT... JOHN REGIS
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☺�����������
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kendor1313
Google Joplin for a complete bio
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hjmunson
BIO!!!!!!!!! ! ! ! !
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listening to Freddie Mercury,then this
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hjmunson
I am going to play this!!!!
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Scott Joplin was played at my Grandpas funeral per his request. It was the best celebration of life I have ever been too and this happy music helped. Now I sit in my office and listen to it and think of Gramps.
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paulcbrock
I need a bio
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paulcbrock
I love his music
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I remember when The Sting came out in '74 (?). There was a huge resurgence of interest in ragtime music and Scott Joplin.
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It's the entertainer�
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looking for the soundtrack the sting is it on here?
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Fun Fact: Scott Joplin was from my hometown, Texarkana, TX(or AR...)!!
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I created a station I call Happy Music that always lifts my spirits with the music of Scott Joplin and his compatriots. Thank you!
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canzalon7
Need a Bio of the great Scott Joplin
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Awesome Music
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mattsegel
I want a bio!!!!!!!! :) pretty please:(
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Want the bio......... . . . a s do all the others before me!!!!
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What happened to the Bio that used to be here???
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mattsegel

Git him a bio :( ;(
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Get this fellow a BiO !
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charlotteffr i e d m a n
where is the bio for this most important composer/pia n i s t / m u s i c i a n of ragtime???
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love the sting
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Where is the bio on Joplin?
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machupichusa n b a r t o l o
love the entertainer played it in kapiolani community college
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