Scott Joplin is known as the "King of Ragtime." He was born near Linden, Texas on November 24, 1868. His family moved to Texarkana at the age of about seven.
Joplin showed a talent for music at a young age. Encouraged by his parents, he was already proficient on the banjo, and was beginning to play the piano. By age eleven, Scott Joplin was learning harmony and style. As a teenager, he worked as a dance musician.
Joplin settled in St. Louis about 1890 after doing a stint as a traveling piano player. While living in St. Louis he studied and led in developing ragtime music which is a blend of European classical styles and African American harmony and rhythm.
In 1894, Scott Joplin moved to Sedalia, Missouri. His eight-member Texas Medley Quartette toured with him as far east as Syracuse, New York. The Great Crush Collision, was inspired by a spectacular railroad locomotive crash staged near Waco, Texas in September of 1896. This was one of his compositions.
In the late 1890s, Joplin worked at the Maple Leaf Club in Sedalia, which provided the title for his best known composition, the Maple Leaf Rag, published in 1899. The Entertainer, is another well known Joplin composition. Over the years Joplin increased his total number of compositions to about sixty. In 1911, Joplin moved to New York City, where he worked on the production of his operatic work, Treemonisha, the first grand opera composed by an African American. Unfortunately, the world was not ready for it.
After suffering health problems due to syphilis that he contracted some years earlier, Joplin died on April 1, 1917 in Manhattan State Hospital.
Joplin did not receive recognition as a serious composer for more than fifty years after his death. In 1973, Joplin's music was featured in the movie, The Sting, which won an Academy Award for its film score. Three years later, in 1976, Joplin's opera Treemonisha won the coveted Pulitzer Prize.