(1868 - 1917)

(born November 24, 1868, Bowie City, Texas; died April 1, 1917, New York, New York)

The most famous and most influential of the Ragtime composers, to whose music America two-stepped, turkey-trotted, and cakewalked into the 20th century.

Joplin composed "The Maple Leaf Rag" in 1899 and "The Entertainer" in 1902.  Joplin regarded his compositions as classic American piano pieces, to be viewed in the same vein as Chopinís piano music.

He used the Ragtime sound and form in writing two operas, one of which, A Guest of Honor, has been lost. Treemonisha, the other, was Joplin's all-encompassing interest during the latter years of his life; the frustrations he suffered in not being able to get it published or produced doubtless contributed to his death.

"The Entertainer," featured in the 1974 film The Sting, brought two Academy Awards to Marvin Hamlisch for adapting and scoring Joplinís music.  Treemonisha was first presented in full in Atlanta, Georgia, in January 1972 in a Katherine Dunham production.  Productions of Treemonisha were presented in Houston and at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., culminating in a Broadway presentation on October 21, 1975, that earned for Joplin a special posthumous Pulitzer Prize in 1976.  Arnold Shaw - American Dictionary of Pop / Rock.

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