Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Maple Leaf Rag Played by Scott Joplin



Scott Joplin... bit of a musical genius and very much a mysterious man! Did you know that his date and place of birth are unknown? It is believed to be somewhere between June 1867-January 1868 so we don't even know his star sign!

The US census reveals that he was living in the State of Texas with his parents when he was 2 years old and it is known that his father was a former slave who worked as a labourer on a farm whilst his mother presumably worked in service as Joplin came across a piano in the white folks home. Naturally he was initially self taught however later received tuition from a German man Julius Weiss.

The most surprising fact I have uncovered is that Joplin wrote an opera, a couple of marches and a waltz however he is famous for his rag music which he developed in Texarkana and 'Maple Leaf Rag' was basically a tribute to one of his 2 regular social clubs. Joplin's strength was in composing and not piano playing- he referred to himself as, 'King of Ragtime Writers.'

During the 1880's Joplin lived in Sedalia, Missouri which has become the home of the 'Scott Joplin International Foundation, hosting an annual festival held earlier this June.

Sadly Joplin died from syphilis in a mental institution in 1917 however the good news is that he was later awarded for his contribution to American music by the Pulitzer committee in 1976. I like to think of him as 'The Entertainer' !!!

Jaz McKenzie

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