November 24,


November 24, 1868 Scott Joplin, composer and pianist, was born near Texarkana, Texas. At eleven years old, Joplin was taught music theory, keyboard technique, and an appreciation of folk and opera music. As an adult, he also studied at George R. Smith College, a historically black college in Missouri. He achieved fame for his unique ragtime compositions and was known as the “King of Ragtime.” Over his career, he wrote 44 ragtime pieces, a ragtime ballet, and two operas. One of his first pieces, “Maple Leaf Rag,” became ragtime’s first and most influential hit and sold over one million copies of sheet music. Joplin died April 1, 1917, but his music returned to popularity with the 1970 release of “Scott Joplin Piano Rags,” which sold over a million albums, and the 1973 movie “The Sting,” which featured several of his compositions and won the Academy Award for Best Music. In 1970, Joplin was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and in 1976 he was recognized with a Pulitzer Prize for his contribution to American music. In 1983, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor. Several books have been published about Joplin, including “King of Ragtime: Scott Joplin and His Era” (1996) and “Dancing to a Black Man’s Tune: A Life of Scott Joplin” (2004). The biographical film, “Scott Joplin,” was released in 1977.


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