(No. 21 of the Black Composers series)
Scott Joplin (1867-1917) was an American composer, performer, and teacher who is known today as the “King of Ragtime.” Born and raised in Texarkana, Texas, by a musical family, Joplin naturally gravitated to music as a boy. As a young man, Joplin worked as a touring musician and his original compositions eventually started being published. But he soon grew unhappy with the usual publishing contracts he was offered and hired a lawyer to rewrite them. This turned out to be a very good idea, as his next publication was the “Maple Leaf Rag,” which soon sold a half a million copies! In addition to piano rags, Joplin wrote many other works, including a ballet and two operas. In 1976, he received a special posthumous Pulitzer Prize.