Scott Joplin was born in Texas in 1868, into a poor but musical black family. His father played the piano and his mother played the banjo and sang. Scott played the violin and bugle but his favourite instrument was his neighbour's piano. His father worked extra hours to buy him a battered old grand piano, and soon Scott was playing by ear Negro tunes, blues and spirituals. He quickly became the talk of the town. Scott didn't learn to read music until he was 11, when an old German music teacher spotted his talent and gave him free, formal piano lessons. Soon he also started to write music, his tunes were a wonderful mixture of classical European and African beat. This unique style was known as Ragtime, and was played everywhere in the USA in the early 1900s with both black and white musicians. When Scott was 14, his mother died and he left home to seek his fortune in St. Louis. St. Louis was noisy and bustling with life. The sound of music was everywhere - black, white and mixed. Scott was soon playing Ragtime piano in cheap bars in waterfront. This was a tough area of city where arguments over girls, whisky and money were settled with fists and guns. Scott grew up very fast and his musical talent continued to develop. All in all he wrote about 50 piano rags.
Scott Joplin died in 1917. Today he is undisputed King if Ragtime, thanks to his natural ability, his unusual musical education and the popularity of the film The Sting.
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Scott Joplin biography
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