As a composer, Scott Joplin is often referred to as being the King of Ragtime. That’s pretty impressive considering Joplin never made any recordings of his work. What we do have on tape of this amazing musician and entertainer comes from his live performances. If you’ve heard pieces like The Entertainer or The Maple Leaf Rag, then you’ve heard Joplin’s work.
1. He Wrote Operas
Joplin might be known for his ragtime, including penning the best-selling ragtime hit of all time. What many do not realize is that this talented musician also created two operas: Treemonisha and Guest of Honor. His family was talented musically, with his parents playing the violin and banjo. Joplin himself learned the guitar as his first instrument.
2. Music As a Need
Scott Joplin left home as a teenager to begin touring as a musician. It is here that he developed the entertaining ragtime style, almost out of necessity. Many of the venues where he played had dance areas and ragtime let people come out to the floor and have a good time. He would also play other dance styles based on the location, which is why his first two published compositions are actually waltzes.
3. Everything Could Have Changed
1902 was an important year for Joplin. He wrote a ballet and created his first opera, both of which were seeing some good box office successes. The receipts were stolen, however, and this eventually caused the production to shut down. If that theft had not occurred, Joplin may have been remembered as the greatest musician of all time.
4. He Never Saw His Greatest Success
Joplin died in 1917 from complications due to syphilis. His musical genre has seen two large periods of resurgence, in the 40s and the 70s, and this led to him being awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize almost 60 years after he passed away. His influence has literally shaped almost a century of music to this point.
5. He Published His Own Works
Joplin only received one penny as a royalty for his most famous work. It sold 1 million copies, so 1 million pennies at the time was a good sum of money. To make sure he got the most out of future works, he would go on to form his own publishing company in 1913 with his third wife.
Scott Joplin was an amazing musician with a talent that is rarely seen in this world. Make time to listen to his music if you have not and see for yourself just how wonderful his compositions happen to be.