Scott Joplin

Scott Joplin 1868-1917 Born: November 24, 1868, Linden, Texas Died: April 1, 1917, New York City Scott Joplin was an American composer and pianist. Best known as the King of Ragtime and for his song The Entertainer , used in the 1973 movie The Sting which won an Oscar for Best Film Score. He was born on November 24, 1868 in Linden, Texas. He displayed his music talent at an early age. His family moved to Texarkana, Texas located on the Texas-Arkansas border, when he was seven years old, that’s where he would become proficient on the banjo and the piano. He taught himself music on a piano in a home where his mother worked. And, by the age of eleven his gift was noticed by German-born music teacher Julius Weiss. This teacher greatly influenced him. As a teenager he worked professionally in dance halls, saloons, brothels and as a traveling musician. In the 1880s as a teenage he lived in Sedalia and attended Lincoln High School. In 1890 he moved to St. Louis, Missouri where he studied the music genre we now call Ragtime. 1895 has him living in Sedalia, Missouri enrolled at the George R. Smith College in hopes of a career as a pianist or composer. When he left school he was advanced enough to earn a living as a musician. He published Maple Leaf Rag in 1899 it brought him instant fame. So famous he had several students ragtime composers Arthur Marshall and Scott Hayden, but he left to move St. Louis in 1900 to work with his publisher, John Stark. In 1901, he married Belle Jones but this marriage ended in divorce 2 years later. In 1904 he married Freddie Alexander, she died of pneumonia ten weeks after they were married. He later married Lottie Stokes in 1911. She controlled his career and together they formed a publishing company. His career suffered due to effects of syphilis, he deteriorated physically and mentally and died on April 1, 1917. His greatest success was recognized posthumously in the 1970s, an album of Scott Joplin’s rags was recorded by Joshua Rifkin selling millions of copies. An Academy Award winning movie The Sting which featured his compositions, The Entertainer . And his opera Treemonisha originally written 1906-1910 was finally produced, in 1972. And lastly in 1976, he was posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize.