04-18-2024  5:06 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
by BOTWC Staff
Published: 05 April 2023

Scott Joplin was an American composer and pianist who is widely considered the "King of Ragtime Music." Born in Texas, Joplin was the second of six children, Opera Wire reports. His parents were former slaves who worked as laborers on a farm, and his mother was a skilled musician who played the banjo and the piano.

At an early age, Joplin showed an interest in music so his mother taught him how to play the piano. From then on, He quickly developed his musical talents and began performing in local saloons and bars. At the age of 21, Joplin moved to Sedalia, Missouri, where he continued to play the piano and develop his unique style of ragtime music.

A new tune

Ragtime music was a popular form of music in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, known mostly for its syncopated rhythms, which featured accents on the offbeat. Joplin was one of the pioneers of this style of music and is credited with creating many of its most iconic compositions. 

“Syncopations are no indication of light or trashy music, and to shy bricks at 'hateful ragtime' no longer passes for musical culture,” Joplin previously told reporters. 

His deep love and respect for the craft he helped perfect was evident in his musical compositions. One of Joplin's most famous works is "Maple Leaf Rag," which he composed in 1899, Biography.com reports. The piece became an instant hit and sold over a million copies of sheet music. Today, it remains one of the most popular ragtime compositions of all time and has been covered by countless artists over the years. A true testament to Joplin’s musical genius and skill.

Joplin's legacy

Joplin continued to compose and perform throughout his life, despite facing significant challenges as a Black musician in a segregated society. He was determined to gain recognition for his work and to elevate ragtime music to the status of classical music. In 1907, he published a collection of his compositions called "The Entertainer,” which included some of his most famous works.

While his contributions were innumerable and significant, his personal life continued to be an uphill battle, the musician battling mental illness and financial difficulties throughout his time. Joplin passed away on April 1, 1917 at the age of 49, leaving behind a legacy as one of the greatest composers of ragtime music.

Today, his contributions can still be seen throughout history and culture. What was once an emerging art form, blending musical traditions and laying the foundation for jazz music, is now a staple in composition, Joplin’s century old work continuing to inspire new generations. In honor of the 106th anniversary of his passing, we celebrate a true pioneer of music, a man who broke down barriers and created a new style of music that captured the hearts and minds of audiences around the world. 

Thank you Mr. Joplin. Because of you, we can!

This article was orignially published to BOTWC

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