“The Father of Ragtime Music”

One of music's greatest, Scott Joplin was born on November 24, 1868. Black composer and pianist Joplin achieved fame for his ragtime compositions and was dubbed the "King of Ragtime” writers. During his brief career, he died at age 49, Joplin wrote 44 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two operas. His most popular pieces, the "Maple Leaf Rag", became ragtime's first and most influential hit, and he is recognized as “The Father of Ragtime Music”.


Joplin was born into a musical family of railway laborers in Northeast Texas, and developed his musical knowledge with the help of local teachers. During the late 1880s he left his job as a laborer with the railroad, and travelled around the American South as an itinerant musician. He went to Chicago for the World's Fair of 1893, which played a major part in making ragtime a national craze by 1897. Joplin began publishing music in 1895, and publication of his "Maple Leaf Rag" in 1899 brought him fame. 


In 1916 Joplin descended into dementia as a result of syphilis. He was admitted to a mental institution in January 1917, and died there three months later at the age of 49.


His music was rediscovered and returned to popularity in the early 1970s with the release of a million-selling album recorded by Joshua Rifkin. This was followed by the Academy Award–winning 1973 movie The Sting that featured several of his compositions including "The Entertainer". 


In 1976, Joplin was posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize.

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