Scott Joplin

Scott Joplin
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Ragtime was jazz's direct predecessor (differing from jazz in the absence of blues and improvisation) and Scott Joplin was ragtime's greatest composer. Joplin lived in St. Louis during 1885-93, playing in local bars and clubs. In 1894 he led a band at the Chicago World's Fair and formed the Texas Medley Quartet which played in vaudeville shows. Relocating to Sedalia, MO, Joplin began having pieces published as early as 1895 and in 1899 his "Maple Leaf Rag" (published by his supporter John Stark) became ragtime's most popular number, selling over 75,000 copies of sheet music during its first year. Joplin soon had many other rags published that helped to make ragtime the pop music of its day, but the tragedy of his life was that his goals were beyond ragtime. He staged a ballet (The Ragtime Dance) and two ragtime operas (The Guest of Honor and Treemonisha) but none were successful, a fact that continually frustrated him. By 1910 Joplin was becoming ill with syphilis and at his death in 1917, ragtime was in the process of being replaced by jazz. Ironically, 57 years after his death, Scott Joplin finally became a household name because his music (most notably "The Entertainer") was used by Marvin Hamlisch in his score for the popular film The Sting. Although he only recorded cylinders and piano rolls, Scott Joplin's music has been fully documented with "Maple Leaf Rag" becoming a Dixieland jazz standard and pianist Richard Zimmerman (on an excellent five-LP set for Murray Hill) recording everything that Joplin ever wrote.
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05/28/2006 - Scott Joplin: The King of Ragtime Music - Read More
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