Scott Joplin was born on November 24,
1868 in Texarkana, Arkansas. He learned to play the piano as a child
and with the help of a neighbor, mastered the classics.
In the early days, Scott moved from
place to place playing wherever and whenever he could get a job. He
played mostly in Honky-Tonk establishments, (a usually tawdry
nightclub or dance hall), during this time, but in 1893 he landed a
job as a band leader at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
In 1896 he moved to Sedalia, Missouri
and attended George Smith College where he began a serious study of
musical composition. He also played at the Maple Leaf club during this
time. While playing at the club he met John Stark, a music publisher
who published Scott's first ragtime composition, Original Rag
and his most famous piece, Maple Leaf Rag Time.
Around 1900, Joplin became involved in
the new Jazz music that was just beginning at this time. Jazz was a
combination of the tunes and cakewalks of Blacks, quadrilles,
minuets, and waltzes that were popular in southern cities such as New
Orleans. Ragtime unlike Jazz, however is played almost exclusively on
Scott Joplin wrote many other rags
which include such famous tunes as: Sugar Cane Rag, Wall
Street Rag, Peacherine Rag, Gladiolus Rag, Palm
Leaf Rag, The School of Ragtime, and Magnetic
Ragtime. He also wrote two ragtime operas, A Guest of
Honor and Tremonisha.
His 1902 composition, The
Entertainer, was used as background for the 1973 movie, The
Scott Joplin died on April 11, 1917 in
New York, New York. In 1976 he was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer
Prize for his many contributions to music composition.