The Life and Times of Scott Joplin
As a member of the first generation of African Americans who were born just after the end of slavery, Scott Joplin faced a world of unique challenges. His musical family scraped out a living by sharecropping and cleaning housesbut Scott was exceptionally gifted, and played in churches and saloons. While for a time he wanted to compose classical music, he was drawn to ragtime, an early form of jazz that featured African folk tunes and syncopated rhythms. After his first composition, Maple Leaf Rag, was published in 1899, Joplin was able to keep ragtime popular for the next two decades. In fact, ragtime influences can be heard in later forms of music, such as jazz, blues, and even rock n roll. Scott Joplin, the Father of Ragtime, whose compositions cut across geography, race, and class, was truly a Master of Music.