The “King of Ragtime,” Scott Joplin, is frequently credited with elevating and introducing “banjo piano,” a vulgar form of entertainment frequently associated with salons and brothels, to aristocratic American art. This genius is best described by the words “mysterious” and “tragic.” He is a mystery to the world because little is known about his life or accomplishments. Additionally, he had a lot of unfortunate events throughout his life. Music was the only thing that gave him hope in life. He was compared to musicians like James Scott and Joseph Lamb and was affectionately referred to as the leading ragtime figure of his time. He was a dancing musician in his late adolescence. His most well-known song, “Maple Leaf Club,” propelled him into the elite group of performers. In 1973, he received an Academy Award for his score to “The Sting,” and three years later, his opera “Treemonisha” won the Pulitzer Prize.
Early Years And Childhood Of Scott Joplin
Giles Joplin and Florence Givins welcomed six children into the world close to Linden, Texas, with Scott Joplin being the second. Givins was an African American freeborn from Kentucky and Giles Joplin was a former slave from North Carolina. There were five siblings of Scott Joplin: Monroe, Robert, Rose, William, and Johnny. When Scott Joplin was born, the first generation of African Americans born after slavery was visibly represented. When Joplin was seven years old, the family relocated to Texarkana, where Florence started working as a cleaner and clothes washer to help support the family while Giles worked as a railroad employee.
The musical environment in the household fed Joplin’s zeal for music. Giles taught him and his brothers how to play the violin and was a violinist himself. Florence used to sing and play the banjo, providing Joplin’s talent with a musical setting. Joplin used to play the piano in the neighbor’s and an attorney’s homes when his mother was gone for the day at work. He couldn’t start school until he was 10 years old since there weren’t many schools in the Southern United States, and the ones that were there weren’t accessible to African Americans. He made the decision to pursue a career as a dance hall musician in his late teens. Joplin attended George Smith College in Missouri, which was established for African Americans. Things changed when Florence had to raise six children by herself after Joplin’s father abandoned the family in the early 1880s. As a result, Joplin took on the job to help his mother, but he soon had to quit up when he discovered it wasn’t for him and left Texarkana to work as a traveling musician in the late 1880s.
Spirited Life of Joplin
Joplin spent his after-school hours studying the piano when he was in primary school. The teachers appreciated his earnest and committed approach to learning music, and he received instruction in music from a few local teachers, including Julius Weiss. Weiss immigrated to the United States from Germany as a Jew. He volunteered to be Joplin’s mentor after being deeply moved by the young man’s skills and passions. Weiss taught Joplin for free because he was inspired by the young man’s passion and was aware of the family’s financial predicament. Weiss introduced Joplin to opera, folk music, and classical music when he was 16 years old. Weiss assisted the boy’s mother in buying an old piano from another pupil while methodically developing the little boy’s talent and desire.
Weiss had always been credited with developing Joplin’s skills, and from the time he rose to popularity until the day he passed away from illness, he received gifts and presents from Joplin.
With Music, Joplin
When Joplin finished his education, he published “Maple Leaf Rag” in 1899, earning enough money to devote all of his time to creating music. Scott Joplin used to perform his own songs at church meetings, secular events like African American dances, and establishments like saloons and brothels. He saw it as an opportunity to perform his own exquisite lines as well as dancing styles like waltzes, polkas, and schottisches for the audience’s pure amusement. It was mentioned that Scott Joplin was a well-known ragtime composer. He had written 50 piano rags in total, two ragtime operas, and other tunes. He learned about the Ragtime music style around 1890, when African American rhythms and harmonies merged flawlessly with classical European traditions, leading him to settle in St. Louis, Missouri. After moving to Sedalia, Missouri, in 1894, he started writing music and performing his songs at neighborhood social clubs. His first two ragtime songs were initially released in 1898, but sadly, only “Original Rags” was commercially successful. The following year, “The Maple Leaf” was sold to a publisher, earning him enough money to continue writing additional songs. As a result, it became his first success and gave him a lot of confidence to compose more. Soon after, “The Ragtime Dance” was written. When he relocated to St. Louis in 1901 with his new wife, Belle, he had the chance to become acquainted with the ragtime pioneer Tom Turpin. He mentored many young musicians, including Scott Hayden and Arthur Marshall, who eventually collaborated to write rags.
Achievements as the “King of Ragtime”
Scott Joplin eventually met Alfred Ernst, the St. Lois Choral Symphony Society’s conductor, in the ensuing years. He regarded Joplin as a compositional genius. Joplin helped by writing pieces such “Sunflower Slow Drag,” “Peacherine Rag,” “The Easy Winners,” “Cleopha,” “The Strenuous Life” (a homage to Theodore Roosevelt), “A Breeze from Alabama,” “Elite Syncopations,” “The Entertainer,” and “The Ragtime Dance.” His debut opera, “A Guest of Honor,” was released in 1901. When Joplin traveled to St. Louis in 1904 for the World’s Fair, he was pleased to get a lot of attention when his ragtime song “Cascades” was favorably received. In June of 1904, Joplin divorced Belle and wed Freddie Alexander, whom he had met while visiting his relatives in Arkansas. Freddie suffered from acute pneumonia due to a cold during their honeymoon and passed just ten weeks after their wedding. Following this catastrophe, Joplin vowed never to return to Sedalia. He later wrote a few ragtime songs, but he largely made a living by performing for tips. The Entertainer, a song by Scott Joplin that was prominently featured in the film “The Sting” in 1973, won him the Oscar for “Best Film Scoring.” He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for his opera “Treemonisha,” on which he had been working for almost five years.
Even though just a few of his later ragtime compositions were released, he continued to write them. Irvin Berlin first sang the song “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” in the year 1911. This song is allegedly a ripoff of Scott Joplin’s “A Real Show Drag” from the opera “Treemonisha,” according to Joplin. Even yet, he didn’t think it was wise to sue the obscenely wealthy Berlin since he knew that would do nothing because Berlin was highly powerful.
Individual Life of Scott Joplin
He battled tertiary syphilis and dementia for over twenty years starting in 1916, and as a result, he passed away in New York City in 1917. He was admitted to Manhattan State Hospital in January 1917. Despite the fact that he was hardly recognized after his passing, the jazz artists and the 1973 film “The Sting” revived his 1940s masterpieces. He received praise from critics for this, and he also managed to get the public’s attention.
Bigger Works of Scott Joplin
Scott Joplin wrote several pieces for the piano, including “Maple Leaf,” “The Entertainer,” “Elite Syncopations,” and “Peacherine,” as well as two operas and the ballet. He also composed marches like “Great Crush Collision” and “March Majestic” as well as waltzes like “Harmony Club” and “Bethena.” Scott Joplin’s compositions achieved popularity in the second part of the 20th century and were included in the New York Public Library in 1971. For the cinematic score of the 1973 movie “The Sting,” he also received an Academy Award. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his opera “Treemonisha.”
Legacy of Scott Joplin
Scott Joplin was able to create a standard that distinguished a new genre for ragtime works and greatly advanced the style of music. As a singer and composer who belongs to both ethnicities, he focused on appealing to youthful American audiences. After Joplin’s death, jazz scholar Floyd Levin said that “those few who grasped his genius lowered their heads in sorrow.” The creator of authentic native American music in America, known as the King of All Ragtime Writers, passed away at this time.
Estimated Net Worth
The estimated net worth of Scott Joplin is unknown.