Joplin, Scott

Scott Joplin
November 24, 1868 - April 1, 1917

Scott Joplin had a strong influence on the genre of ragtime music. He was instrumental in elevating rag to from simple, folksy music to an important, popular, and distinctly American form of musical expression.

Joplin’s introduction to music was entirely self-taught. He learned piano, as well as guitar, and bugle. His first experience with formal training came from a German teacher who introduced Joplin to the classical masters.

As a teen, Joplin he began playing piano across the American South. He lived briefly in Chicago before returning to the South. A visit to Syracuse, New York, attracted attention, and brought him his first publishing deal. The next year Joplin approached his musical studies more diligently, and enrolled in a Sedalia college while he continued to publish his work.

One of these was Maple Leaf Rag. After a slow start, the piece became immensely popular, and cemented his fame. Joplin relocated to St. Louis, and was successful at the World’s Fair there. A move to New York coincided with declining health due to syphilis, to which he finally succumbed. Ragtime music died with him, but was resurged sixty years later, mostly thanks to the genre being featured the film, The Sting.

Notable works:
Maple Leaf Ring
The Entertainer
Rose Leaf Rag
Gladiolus Rag
Fig Leaf Rag
Magnetic Rag
Rag Time Dance