Scott Joplin, an American composer was born on November 24, 1868 in Texarkana, Texas, a small city straddling the border of Texas and Arkansas. Joplin studied piano with teachers near his home in Texas. From the mid-1880s, he gave piano performances throughout the Midwest, and he performed at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.
He grew up in a musical environment since most of his family played an instrument or sang and consequently young Scott became fascinated with the piano. He taught himself to play with considerable proficiency so that by the age of 11 his superior ability had reached the white community and particularly aroused the interest of an old German music teacher.
Joplin left home in his early teens hoping to find his fortune through his talent of music. He lived in St. Louis from 1885 to 1893 playing piano in local honky-tonks. Chicago was his next stop, being one of a number of musicians who sought work among the clubs, bars, and honky-tonks that sprang up around the World's Columbian, Exposition. For a brief period following, he settled in Sedalia, Missouri where he played second cornet in the Queen City Concert Band.
The next two years he spent touring with a vocal group he had formed. It was during this phase that Joplin began to write his own compositions, some of which he published--a pair of waltz songs and three piano pieces. The vocal group dissolved in 1896 and Scott returned to Sedalia.
The return to Sedalia marked a crucial turning point in Joplin's career. He decided to attend George Smith College, an educational institution for blacks sponsored by the Methodist Church, where he worked at translating the elusive rhythms of ragtime into musical notation and also continued to refine his creative imagination. Scott composed his first rag which he called "The Maple Leaf Rag," immortalizing a club in Sedalia by that name. The best pianists flocked to the Maple Leaf Club, which had become a favorite in Sedalia due to the Joplin piece. This put Sedalia on the map. Joplin despite this fame had difficulty getting the composition published. A local firm turned it down, as did a St. Louis publishing house, which had bought his original Rags.
A break for Joplin came in 1899 through a local Sedalia music dealer named Joseph Stark. Mr. through a local Sedalia music dealer named Joseph Stark. Mr. Stark heard the Maple Leaf Rag and decided to publish it, producing instant nationwide success for Joplin and Stark. Due to the altered fortune of Stark, resulting from Maple Leaf Rag, he decided to move to St. Louis and set up a much expanded publishing firm. Joplin soon followed with his new bride and despite the barriers of color and age, the two men developed a very close relationship.
Prosperous from his royalties, Joplin retired from the ragtime world of piano playing, bought a large house and began concentrating on composing and teaching. Although he continued to turn out rags, he turned his sights to larger and broader horizons. 1902 brought "Rag Time Dance," a folk ballet based on material composed three years earlier. Soon after came his first ragtime opera entitled "A Guest of Honor." Neither of these efforts met with any success and at the same time personal problems began to afflict Joplin.
His baby daughter died only a few months after birth and relations with his wife, who had no interest in music, ultimately lead to a separation. Following the break with his wife, Joplin moved briefly back to Chicago, then to St. Louis and on to New York, all within the year. Once again he hit the entertainment circuit and composed in hotels and rooming houses, and attempted to win favor of his new compositions. In 1909 he remarried happily, since his first wife had died, and settled in a house on West 41st Street later to move uptown to Harlem. He now began to devote most of his time to a new opera, which he called "Treemonisha." The original production of "Treemonisha" received only a single performance during Joplin's lifetime -- this took place in Harlem in 1915. Void of scenery, costumes, lighting, or orchestral backing, the drama seemed then unconvincing Joplin accompanied a group of singers on the