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Scott Joplin

American composer, musician, and pianist

Scott Joplin was an American ragtime musician and composer. He is widely considered the greatest ragtime composer of all time.

Scott Joplin
Scott Joplin 19072.jpg
Scott Joplin in June 1903. This picture also appears on the cover of "The Cascades" from 1904.[1]
Background information
Birth nameScott Joplin
Also known asKing of Ragtime Writers
Bornc. late 1867 or early 1868 (death stone says 11-2-68)
Northeast Texas, U.S.
OriginTexarkana, Texas
DiedApril 1, 1917 (aged 49)
New York City, New York, U.S.
GenresRagtime, march, waltz
OccupationsComposer, pianist, music teacher
InstrumentsPiano, cornet, guitar, mandolin, violin, banjo, vocals
Years active1895–1917
Notable instruments

Early lifeEdit

Joplin was born in the U.S. state of Texas sometime between June 1867 and January 1868 and grew up in Texarkana, Texas. Even though he was from Texas, most of his pieces were written when he was in Missouri and New York City.

Musical careerEdit

Joplin is most well known for writing piano pieces called rags. His music became popular again in the 1970s, with the album Scott Joplin: Piano Rags, performed by Joshua Rifkin, from Nonesuch Records.[2] He may be most commonly known now by the Marvin Hamlisch adaptation of his composition The Entertainer (1902) which was used in the 1973 movie The Sting starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. His best-known song while he was alive was Maple Leaf Rag (1899). Other rags he wrote were The Ragtime Dance (1906) and Magnetic Rag (1914). Scott Joplin wrote more than 40 piano rags, but he also wrote two operas; A Guest of Honor and Treemonisha. A Guest of Honor was performed in Joplin's lifetime, but since then the music has been lost. Treemonisha was never performed while Joplin was alive, but it has been performed since then. Joplin also wrote a symphony, but the music has been lost.


Joplin died of syphilis in New York City on April 1, 1917.


  1. Berlin (1994) p. 121
  2. Scott Joplin: Piano Rags, Joshua Rifkin, piano, vinyl LP, 1970, Nonesuch Records stereo H-71248


Gildo De Stefano, Ragtime, jazz & dintorni. Preface by Amiri Baraka. SUGARCO Editions, Milano 2007 ISBN 978-88-7198-532-9