Scott Joplin, "King of Ragtime"
February 8, 2021
Scott Joplin Bio | Maddy Shaw Roberts "Who was Scott Joplin, the 'King of Ragtime'?"
An extraordinary Black composer, born the son of a labourer and former slave, Joplin was one of the most important and influential composers at the turn of the 20th century – one whose name is synonymous with an entire genre.
His ideas around harmony, as well as his complex bass patterns and sporadic syncopation, are still imitated by composers today.
Now dubbed the ‘King of Ragtime’, Joplin spent his lifetime trying to become an African American composer of “serious music”. But it wasn’t until some time after his death that much of his music started making its way into public consciousness. Read more at Classical FM
During his life, Scott Joplin composed over 40 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet and two operas.
Maple Leaf Rag
Sunflower Slow Drag
Treemonisha (opera first premiered by the Atlanta Symphony in 1972)
- Scott Joplin self-published his theories of ragtime in “School of Ragtime” (1908) to ensure his genre was genuinely interpreted. To play ragtime authentically, give each note its proper value and “scrupulously observe” the music’s marking to achieve the correct effect. Above all, he cautioned, “Never play ragtime fast at any time.”
- His ideas around harmony, as well as his complex bass patterns and sporadic syncopation, are still imitated by composers today.
- Joplin’s music innovations helped play the groundwork for jazz.
- Every year Sedalia, Missouri hosts the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival.
Learn More about Scott Joplin
- Joplin Biography, Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival
- The Making of Scott Joplin, Texarkana Regional Music Center
- Who Was Scott Joplin, the Black American Composer Dubbed "King of Ragtime"?, Classic FM
- Scott Joplin, 1868-1917, The Library of Congress
- Scott Joplin and the history of ragtime, Pianist Magazine