• Composer of the Week:   Scott Joplin
     
     
     
    Presented for Black History Month 
     

     

    Joplin Scott Joplin was an African-American composer famous for his Ragtime Jazz piano pieces.   Born in either 1867 or 1868 (we are unsure of the exact year) in Texarkana, Texas, Joplin got his musical training from local teachers.   His family was musical, but worked as laborers.   Joplin himself was a railroad worker until he finally decided to become a travelling musician and composer. 

     Joplin moved to Missouri in 1894 teaching piano and composition for a living.   In 1899, he published his first piece, Maple Leaf Rag.  The piece made him somewhat famous and truly launched his career as a composer.  Eventually, he moved to St. Louis, where he tried his hand at composing opera.   He tried a second time upon moving to New York in 1907, where his opera Treemonisha was not well received.  

     Despite Joplin’s success as a piano composer, he was considered a mediocre pianist.  Often, he was outperformed by local musicians, who took pleasure in playing better than he did.  By 1916, Joplin’s health was becoming very poor due to a disease he got as a young man (it was not treatable at the time).  Joplin died in April of 1917.  
     
    Joplin’s music lived on to an extent, with Jazz musicians like the Dorsey brothers releasing versions of Maple Leaf Rag.  In the 1960's and 1970’s, his music was rediscovered.  His most famous pieces include Maple Leaf Rag, The Entertainer, Magnetic Rag and Great Crush Collision.   He also apparently had started a symphony and many other pieces, but they have been lost over the years. 

     

     

     

     Map of Texarkana, Texas 



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