(This story was written by Kirsten Gordon–for her eighth grade class. We also include links below for more information about Scott Joplin. This story is part of references for Black History and is not related to Mormon History as he was not a Mormon. It is part of a comparison in the History section.)
On November 24, 1868 Scott Joplin was born in Liden, Texas. He was later known as the King of Ragtime. He was always a lover of music, even when he was a young child. He was encouraged by his parents to do music. He became proficient on the banjo and was just starting the piano. When he was a teenager he worked as a dance musician. It wasn’t until he moved to St. Louis around 1890 that he started to study and led the new development of a new music genre that is now known as ragtime.
Ragtime is a music genre that makes a strange blend of European classic with African American harmony and rhythm. One of Scott Joplin’s earlier songs he composed was “The Great Crush Collision.” In the late 1890s he worked at a place call Maple Leaf Club which he made a song about called “The Maple Leaf Rag.” This song got published in 1899. Then after this song one of his most famous compositions was made called “The Entertainer.” Scott Joplin then decided to move to New York in 1911. He made his opera “Treemonisha” there. It was the first opera composed by an African American. Unfortunately it was not successful that the time. Since he was so wrapped up with being successful he suffered and collapsed from the failure of “Treemonisha.”
He died on April 1, 1917 at the age 49. Only six years after his unsuccessful opera. Sadly he was not considered a serious composer until more then 50 years after his death. His music in 1973 was featured in a motion picture called “The Sting.” This motion picture won the Academy Award. Then in 1976, Joplin’s unsuccessful opera, “Treemonisha,” won the coveted Pulitzer Prize. If it wasn’t for Scott Joplin we probably wouldn’t even know of a music genre call Ragtime. He was a very inspired man and many people are thankful for his music and still listen to it today.
The King of Ragtime: Scott Joplin
SPECTRUM Biographies 6 Feb. 2005