Joplin 1

Scott Joplin History of Jazz

  • Birth (c.1867-1868)

    Birth (c.1867-1868)
    His birthdate is uncertain. This is the most common published date, however 1870 census data allows for dispute. Most probably, he was born between November 1967-January 1968 in northeast Texas.
  • Texarkana

    As the son of laborers who worked for a white family, he moved to Texarkana. During this time, he had access to a piano and began teaching himself the rudiments of music.
  • Student of Julius Weiss

    Student of Julius Weiss
    Around the age of 11, his musical talent was noticed by a music teacher of German descent, Julius Weiss. He instructed Joplin in European art forms (classical music) as well as opera. He also taught him in other subject areas. Weiss did this for Joplin at no cost due to the fact that as a son of laborers, Joplin had no money to pay him.
  • (1880's) - Career began

    (1880's) - Career began
    During the 1880's, Joplin lived in Sedalia and attended Lincoln High School in the black neighborhood. He began performing as a dance musician and played in saloons and brothels.
  • 1890 - Ragtime!

    1890 - Ragtime!
    During this year, he moved to St. Louis and began studying and developing the music now known as Ragtime, a blend of European classical music styles and African-American harmony and rhytym.
  • Minstrel Group

    Minstrel Group
    During the summer of 1891, Joplin performed with a minstrel group in Texarkana. His name was published in the newspapers as a member.
  • World's Fair, 1893

    World's Fair, 1893
    During the World's Fair of 1893, it is said that he led a band and played cornet, probably outside the fairground in Chicago.
  • Queen City Cornet Band

    Queen City Cornet Band
    After the 1893 World's Fair ended, he moved to Sedalia where he played first cornet in the Queen City Cornet Band. This lasted only about one year. He subsequently formed his own band.
  • Teacher/Performer

    During this year, he taught piano while performing. He instructed notable ragtime composers such as Arthur Marshall and Scott Hayden.
  • First Publications

    First Publications
    This year he published his first two songs: "Please Say You Will" and "A Picture of Her Face"
  • "Crash at Crush" - Texas Medley Quartette

    "Crash at Crush" - Texas Medley Quartette
    This year, he published one of his first compositions inspired by a planned, staged, and highly publicized locomotive crash near Waco, Texas. The crash was designed to promote the railroad.
  • Maple Leaf Club

    Maple Leaf Club
    During this year, Joplin worked at the Maple Leaf Club in Sedalia, a social club for black men. This experience provided him with the title to his best known composition, "The Maple Leaf Rag".
  • Maple Leaf Rag Published

    Maple Leaf Rag Published
    This is his best known composition. Here, he collaborated with a lawyer and publisher to be able to retain a one-cent royalty for each sale of his work. This provided him with a small, but steady income for the rest of his life.
  • First Marriage

    First Marriage
    This year he moved to St. Louis and married Belle, the widow of his student, Scott Hayden's older brother. It was also during this year that he published "Sunflower Slow Drag," "Peacherine Rag," and "The Easy Winners".
  • More Rags!

    More Rags!
    During 1902, he published six more rags including "The Strenuous Life," a tribute to Theodore Roosevelt; "The Entertainer," and "The Ragtime Dance".
  • "A Guest of Honor"

    "A Guest of Honor"
    He formed an opera company and filed for the copyright for "A Guest of Honor" but the venture failed due to his inablility to pay his performers and the boarding house where they were staying. It is believed that someone with his opera company stole box office receipts which compromised his financial position. His possessions along with the music were seized. The musical score was never filed with the Library of Congress and the music has never been found.
  • Second Marriage

    Second Marriage
    Joplin's first marriage to Belle failed. After his opera company was unsuccessful, he traveled to Arkansas and met Freddie Alexander whom he eventually married in June, 1904.
  • Freddie's Death

    Freddie's Death
    Jopllin's new wife of 10 weeks dies due to pneumonia. After her death, Joplin left Sedalia and never returned.
  • New York

    New York
    Joplin moved to New York sometime during the summer of 1907. He lived here until his death in 1917.
  • Treemonisha

    He attempted to have this opera published in 1910 upon his complettion of this 230 page project. He couldn't find anyone willing to publish it, so in 1911 he did it himself.
  • Third Marriage

    Third Marriage
    Likely a common law marriage around 1913, he married Lottie Stokes.
  • Death

    Scott Joplin became fatally ill in early 1917. He was admitted to the Bellevue Hospital and transferred to the mental ward of Manhattan State Hospital on February 3rd, 1917. He died there at the age of 49 from demential paralytical that was most likely caused by his Syphilis encounter almost two decades earlier.