?King Of Ragtime Scott Joplin And His Era? Essay, Research Paper
The King of Ragtime is what they called him and that is what he was. Scott Joplin was to ragtime as what John Philip Sousa was to the march. The book I choose to read was titled “King of Ragtime Scott Joplin and His Era”, Edward A. Berlin was the author of the book.
Scott Joplin’s life seemed to be like most people’s life at that time in the South when his was growing. However, as he got older he began to break away and become a huge part of musical history. He was born on November 24, 1868, in the small city of Texarkana that sat on the border of Texas and Arkansas. Scott’s father, Giles, was a railroad laborer who was born into slavery and obtained his freedom five years before his son was born. Florence, his mother was born a free black and worked as a laundress when she was not busy raising her children. Like many black people during the time of the post civil war, the Joplins saw music as a tool and a reward. Joplin’s family was very musically talented and they preformed at weddings and funerals. Scott began his musical career by playing the guitar, and then took up the piano after playing his neighbor’s piano. He was so good that a local German musician gave him free piano lessons. Soon was off on his own and he was playing all over the Mid-West and South.
In 1893 Joplin played cornet with a band at the World’s Colombian Exposition in Chicago, where the country displayed its regional variation of ragtime music. There at the exposition Joplin met pianist Otis Saunders. Otis Saunders encourage Joplin to play the piano and to write down his own original pieces. After touring around the country playing bars and night clubs Scott settled down in the town of Sedalia, Missouri, which would later become known as the Cradle of Classic Ragtime. Here he attended music classes at the George R. Smith College for Negroes. In the town of Sedalis Joplin composed some of his greatest works as a pianist.
With his short, hard driving melodies and the syncopated backbone he began to compose. In 1899 Joplin issued his first piano rags “Original Rags” and “Maple Leaf Rag”. Shortly after the songs were played in the nightclubs, Joplin signed with a publisher. Soon success and money came Scott Joplins way, and he stopped playing in clubs. With a financial cushion Scott went after another one of his loves, opera. Joplin composed two operas in his life one was a flop and now lost “A guest of Honor”. His second opera “Treemonisha” did succeed, however it became a large success after he died. Scoot Joplin died on April 1, 1917, in New York City.
I found in my reading that in Scott Joplin’s life there were many great stories to be told. However, the story I find the most interesting occurred long after he had died. In 1974 the academy award winning film “The Sting” had caused a rebirth of ragtime and other types of classical music. The film brought back the music of Scott Joplin, the push was led by the piece titled “The Entertainer”. The piece was one of the most popular songs of the mid-1970s, it soured to a top ten finish on the pop charts. The revival of his music resulted in events that were unprecedented in American musical history. Never before had a song been so popular among the classical charts and pop charts. “The Sting” carried Joplin’s music back into the record stores.
I feel that I have had a great personal understanding of music my whole life. When I was a younger child I took up piano at a young age and played daily up until I was sixteen. I had lesson on the keyboard as well as classes in music theory. After that I played in the school band for several years. So, I feel that the book did not give me a new understanding for music, but it did spark a new interest. I have begun to practice the piano more and more and take up a new instrument, the guitar. As far an appreciation of music goes, I also feel that I have gained that quality as a young child, and continue to carry with me in college. I enjoy all type of music. With an appreciation for music I found the book to very enjoyable and interesting.
I felt the book was well thought out and well written. It takes the reader through a step by step journey of Scott Joplin’s life. The book does not just focus on his personal life or music but instead incorporates them both into the book in a way that is very easy to read and very understandable. I felt the book was interesting, and it kept my attention every page of the way. I enjoyed the story of a black who emerged out of poverty in the post civil war era to become one of the greatest composer ever. Yes, I would recommend this book to anyone who is music lover and to someone who enjoys ragtime music.
King of Ragtime Scott Joplin and His Era”, Edward A. Berlin