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"King of Ragtime" born


On this day in 1868, pianist and composer Scott Joplin, who later gained fame as the "King of Ragtime," was born, probably at Caves Springs, near Linden, Texas. Joplin's father, a former slave, moved the family to Texarkana by about 1875. Scott was a proficient banjo player by the age of seven and began to experiment on a piano owned by a neighbor for whom his mother worked as a domestic. At about age eleven, he began free piano lessons with the German-born Julius Weiss, who also taught him the basics of sight reading, harmony, and appreciation, particularly of opera. Around 1890 Joplin settled in St. Louis, where a type of music later known as ""ragged time," or simply "ragtime," was popular. Joplin may have witnessed the 1896 "Crash at Crush," which he later commemorated in a march entitled "Great Crush Collision." In 1899 Carl Hoffman issued Joplin's first ragtime publications, including his best-known piece, "Maple Leaf Rag." The sheet music went on to sell over one million copies. Joplin also incorporated ragtime into a number of other works, including a ballet and two operas. He settled in New York in 1911 and died there in 1917.

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