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Profile of Scott Joplin


Profile of Scott Joplin

Scott Joplin

Public Domain Image from Wikimedia Commons


Uncertain, probably between June 1867 and mid-January 1868




April 1, 1917 in New York, New York

Also Known As:

Scott Joplin is known as the "King of ragtime." He was a composer, educator, pianist, cornetist (played first cornet for the Queen City Cornet Band), founder and member of the vocal group Texas Medley Quartette. Some of his works, including a musical and a symphony, are lost.

Type of Compositions:

He is famous for his classic rags for the piano and his operas. He also wrote songs, marches and a waltz.


It is believed that Joplin taught himself how to play the piano when he was young. He then received lessons from a local music teacher named Julius Weiss. From around 1896 to the late 1890s, Joplin furthered his music studies at the George R. Smith College in Sedalia. In 1891, he was in Texarkana and performing with a minstrel troupe. Two years later, he was leading and performing with a band during World’s Fair in Chicago.

Notable Works:

His most notable works are his classic rags; “Maple Leaf Rag” and “The Entertainer” and his opera "Treemonisha." Other works include "A Breeze from Alabama," "Cascades," "Cleopha," "Elite Syncopations," "Eugenia," "Palm Leaf Rag," "Peacherine Rag," "Something Doing," "Sunflower Slow Drag," "Swipesy," "The Chrysanthemum," "The Favorite," "The Easy Winners," "The Ragtime Dance," "The Strenuous Life," "The Rosebud," "The Sycamore," "Weeping Willow," his songs: "Please Say You Will" and "A Picture of Her Face" and the opera "A Guest of Honor."

Other Works:

Other works include: "Fig Leaf Rag," "Gladiolus Rag," "Heliotrope Bouquet," "Nonpareil," "Paragon Rag," "Pine Apple Rag," "Pleasant Moments," "Rose Leaf Rag," "Searchlight Rag," "Solace" and "Stoptime Rag."

Interesting Facts:

  • Scott Joplin published an instructional book called The School Of Ragtime in 1908.
  • His first wife was Belle; his second wife, Freddie Alexander, passed away ten weeks after they were married. His third wife was Lottie, with whom he formed a publishing company.
  • He suffered from a nervous breakdown and was eventually institutionalized in 1916.
  • His music was also used on a film called The Sting which won an Academy Award.
  • In 1976, Joplin was posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize.

Music Sample:

Listen to Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag courtesy of YouTube.

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