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Scott Joplin — The King of Ragtime Writers

Featuring the Maple Leaf Rag (1899) by Scott Joplin and other Joplin Rags

 

By Ted Tjaden

(originally published June 2006 and updated periodically)

 

Recordings available on this page (see below):

Maple Leaf Rag, Peacherine Rag, Solace (A Mexican Serenade).

Sheet music available on this page:

See below to download or view the sheet music for ragtime compositions by Scott Joplin.

Recommended reading:

Edward A. Berlin, King of Ragtime: Scott Joplin and his Era (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1995).

 

Scott Joplin is regarded by most as the "King" of Ragtime Writers, in part due to his early success with the best-selling Maple Leaf Rag (below) but more importantly due to the enduring nature and quality of his ragtime compositions. This page sets out information on Scott Joplin in the following topics:

1)  Introduction
2)  Life of Scott Joplin
3)  Sheet Music of Scott Joplin Compositions
4)  .MP3 Recordings by me of Scott Joplin Compositions
5)  Bibliography

 

1)  Introduction    [top]

Although classic ragtime piano is a relatively narrow aspect of music, most people have heard of Scott Joplin, or if not, they have heard some of his more well known compositions, including The Entertainer (below) or The Maple Leaf Rag (below).

Picture of Scott Joplin   Although the popularity of the Maple Leaf Rag made Joplin a relatively well-known composer, perhaps more so after his death, it was the enduring quality of his compositions that have cemented his reputation as the "King of Ragtime Writers". John Stark, the main publisher for the "Big 3" ragtime composers (Scott Joplin, James Scott and Joseph Lamb), was prone to fanciful puffery in his sales brochures for the rags he published, but there is something to be said for Stark's descriptions of these rags:

We have advertised these as classic rags, and we mean just what we say. They are the perfection of type. "The glass of fashion and the mold of form". "Age cannot whither or custom stale their infinite variety". They have lifted ragtime from its low estate and lined it up with Beethoven and Bach" (Stark ad, page 23, in Ragtime Review (Vol. 1, No. 2: January 1915).

Jasen and Tichenor (1987:83) describe Joplin's compositions in these terms:

He combined the traditions of Afro-American music folk music with nineteenth-century European romanticism; he collected the black Midwestern Folk rag ideas as raw material for the creation of original strains. Thus, his rags are the most heavily pentatonic, with liberal use of blue notes and other outstanding features that characterize black folk music. In this creative synthesis, . . . the traditional march became the dominant form, and the result was a new art form, the Classic rag a unique conception which paradoxically both forged the way for early serious ragtime composition, and, at the same time, developed along insular lines, away from most other ragtime playing and composing.

Fortunately, Joplin's rags have been widely recorded (see below) and published and there is much commentary on his music available. The launch of the movie The Sting in 1973 which featured a number of Scott Joplin compositions as part of the soundtrack was responsible for extending the ragtime revival of the 1950's to the present day (with Joplin's The Entertainer, featured in the movie, making it in the "Top 10" of the "Songs of the Century" as determined by the Recording Industry of America and the National Endowment of the Arts). Ironically, the movie was set during the Depression, about 10 to 20 years after ragtime's heyday, making the music of Joplin chosen for the movie slightly anachronistic.

 

2)  Life of Scott Joplin (1868 ~ 1917)     [top]

Fortunately, much has already been written about the life of Scott Joplin. I highly recommend Edward A. Berlin's King of Ragtime: Scott Joplin and his Era (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1995) as being one of the more definitive biographies on Scott Joplin (Berlin has his own webpage here). Berlin has also prepared a brief online biography of Scott Joplin for the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Foundation). Another useful research resource on Scott Joplin is Nancy R. Ping-Robbins' Scott Joplin: A Guide to Research (New York, NY: Garland Pub., 1998), which contains 1,268 separate bibliographic entries or citations for information on Joplin and the ragtime era. Because so much has already been written about Scott Joplin, I set out below only some of the more significant events in his life:

 

The Early Years and Family Life

  • Most references cite November 24, 1868, as the date Scott Joplin was born, but research by Berlin (1995:4-5) suggests that this date, based on what is likely the faulty memory of Joplin's widow, may be in error. Census data surrounding Joplin's age is also inconsistent and hence inconclusive. Despite this, Joplin's date of birth is likely sometime in 1868, give or take a small period of time. In his online biography of Scott Joplin, Berlin suggests that Joplin was most likely born sometime between June 1867 and mid-January 1868.
  • Joplin grew up in a musical family, likely initially in northeastern Texas. He had an older brother (Monroe) and a younger brother (Robert) and three younger siblings. At some point, the family moved to Texarkana, possibly as early as 1875 when Scott Joplin would have been around 7 years old (Berlin, 1995:7). Brother Robert himself became a well known dancer and vaudevillian (Berlin, 1995:7).
  • Joplin showed some promise as a youth on the piano and took lessons from various local piano teachers. Of note, most biographers emphasize the influence that Julius Weiss, a German piano teacher, had on shaping Joplin's early musical influences (Berlin, 1995:7; Jasen and Jones, 2000:26). For a good overview of Joplin's early life, see Addison W. Reed's chapter entitled "Scott Joplin: Pioneer" in J.E. Hasse, ed., Ragtime: Its History, Composers, and Music. New York, NY: Schirmer Books, 1985:117-36.
  • Scott Joplin formed a vocal quartet that performed in Texarkana; in addition, Joplin appears to have played piano there in dance halls and taught guitar and mandolin (Berlin, 1995:7)
  • It appears that Joplin left Texarkana sometime in his teens, likely pursuing the life on the saloon and honky-tonk circuit throughout Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Illinois and Kentucky as a pianist (Berlin, 1995:8). Berlin raises the possibility that Joplin lived in Sedalia, Missouri, during this time and even went to Lincoln High School, an all black school in that city  (Berlin, 1995:8).
  • In 1891, Joplin was part of the Texarkana Ministrels that faced some controversy at a performance in Texarkana that summer where it turned out that part of the proceeds were being raised for Jefferson Davis, the former President of the Confederate States of America and supporter of slavery (Berlin, 1995:9-10).
  • It is believed that Joplin would been in Chicago for the Chicago World's Fair in 1893 which is where ragtime as a musical form began to develop and be known to a wider white audience (Berlin, 1995:11). Berlin  reports that Joplin met Otis Saunders, another ragtime pianist, at the Fair and the two of them went to St. Louis and then Sedalia when the Fair ended in October 1893. (Berlin, 1995:9-12).

 

Time in Sedalia (circa 1894 to 1901)

  • Joplin lived in Sedalia from approximately 1894 to 1901after which he moved to St. Louis. Berlin (1995:13-23) describes Sedalia at that time as a thriving city with opportunities for blacks despite it being a largely segregated community. The city housed the George R. Smith College for black students where it is believed that Joplin took music courses (Jasen and Tichenor, 1987:82). Sedalia also hosted the black Queen City Cornet Band and a number of honky-tonks along Main Street.
  • It is likely that Joplin toured a fair bit during this time with his Texas Medley Quartette. Berlin (1995:26) notes that two of Joplin's early songs, Please Say You Will and A Picture of Her Face (both from 1895) were published in New York state, likely as a result of a tour to that region by the Texas Medley Quartette.
  • Berlin also notes that since Joplin had three pieces published in Texas (The Great Crush Collision March, Harmony Club Waltzes, and Combination March, all available below), so it is likely that Joplin also spent time in Temple, Texas, likely on tour (1995:27). It is not clear whether Joplin himself witnessed the "Great Crush Collision" of trains staged on September 15, 1896 (which resulted inadvertently in the death of three spectators), but Joplin's composition named after this event was published one month later (more information on the historical "collision" event is available here and here).
  • It appears that Joplin taught piano to students and was also a mentor to a number of up and coming ragtimers, including Arthur Marshall, Scott Hayden and Brun Campbell (Berlin, 1995:31). Despite this, most authors suggest that Joplin was likely not much of an entertainer on the keyboard and was considered only a competent pianist, especially when compared to the theatrics of many of the contemporary "rag thumpers" of the time (Jasen and Tichenor, 1987:85-86).
  • Sedalia was also home to two black social clubs, the Black 400 Club and the Maple Leaf Club, that hosted dances and social activities, some of which included white residents as guests. (Berlin, 1995:34-44) provides a fascinating look at the history of these clubs, their competition with each other, their role in promoting ragtime music, and their ultimate demise in early 1900 when they were shut down by the city.
  • Berlin (1995:47) documents that Joplin likely had written Original Rags (below) as early as 1897 and had tried unsuccessfully to publish that piece, along with Maple Leaf Rag (below) and possibly Sunflower Slow Drag (below), in 1898 with A.W. Perry & Son in Sedalia. Joplin was successful in having Original Rags published by Carl Hoffman (Kansas City) (Jasen and Jones, 2000:27), but Berlin (1995:48) doubts that Charles Daniels actually arranged Original Rags (as is indicated on the cover, here).
  • Joplin's most famous composition, the Maple Leaf Rag (below), was published by John Stark, then of Sedalia. Many commentators have noted the importance to Joplin of Stark granting a one-percent royalty for the composition since the composition subsequently sold very well, possibly as high as one half-million copies (Berlin, 1995:58). The original cover of Maple Leaf Rag (below) was an advertisement from the American Tobacco Company portraying the famous vaudevillians, Bert Williams and George Walker (and their dance partners and future wives).
  • One of the many "myths" surrounding Joplin and his work is the naming of The Maple Leaf Rag and whether it was named after the Maple Leaf Club in Sedalia. One theory is that there is a Canadian connection to the composition (since the maple leaf was a recognized national symbol in Canada since at least the mid 1850's with the Maple Leaf Forever, available here in PDF, being composed in 1867, for example). One possible theory, I think unlikely, is that Joplin named the piece to commemorate the Underground Railway to Canada (discussed here in Ragtime Music in Canada) (Berlin, 1995:61). Another theory connected to the composition, or at least to the Maple Leaf Club, is that the "Maple Leaf Club", which was owned by Will and Walker Williams who were from London, Ontario, was named for Canada's symbol: Timothy J. McGee, The Music of Canada. New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 1985. Berlin, on the other hand, has a much more practical explanation: Sedalia was a city whose streets were lined with maple trees and the was a current vogue in town to name things after leaves and trees: Berlin, 1995:62. Joplin also used arboreal and floral themes for naming a number of his subsequent rags.
  • During the time Joplin was in Sedalia, he is believed to have married Belle Hayden, the widow of Scott Hayden's brother: Berlin, 1995:84. However, the couple separated around 1903 shortly after the death of their infant daughter.
  • Berlin (1995:85) notes that on his departure from Sedalia in 1901, Joplin "was well known locally as both a pianist and composer, was quickly gaining nationwide fame as the composer of the Maple Leaf Rag, and was soon to be known as "the king of ragtime writers".

 

Time in St. Louis (circa 1901 to 1907)

  • Compared to Sedalia, St. Louis in 1901 was a much larger and more vibrant city. Berlin notes that Joplin first moved to the city's red-light district which was "a major center for the early development of black Midwestern ragtime" (1995:89).
  • This was a prolific time for Joplin, with a number of his compositions being published in St. Louis by John Stark, who had also moved to St. Louis.
  • In 1903, Joplin filed a copyright application for an opera called Guest of Honor, which was briefly performed on tour, but unfortunately, Joplin was unable to cover the payroll after a certain point, and his possessions, including the score to the opera, were seized, and to this date, no known copy of Guest of Honor has survived (Berlin, 1995: Chapter 7).
  • In 1904, the St. Louis World Fair (the Louisiana Purchase Exposition) brought a number of ragtime pianists to the area. It would have been an exciting time to hear ragtime piano (although the Fair was not without controversy because of the continuing discrimination that blacks faced). Berlin, for example, describes a "cutting contest" between Tom Turpin and Louis Chauvin (Chauvin won) (1995:134).
  • It is likely that Joplin wrote The Cascades (below) to commemorate the Cascades Gardens at the World Fair, pictured on the cover of his sheet music (see below).
  • Also in 1904, Joplin met a 19-year old woman, Freddie Alexander, to whom he dedicated The Chrysanthemum (below). They were married shortly thereafter on June 14, 1904. After the marriage, the couple went to Sedalia where Joplin performed. However, his new wife took sick and eventually died of pneumonia on September 10, 1904. Berlin (1995:208) has an interesting theory that Joplin may have memorialized Freddie in the main character in his opera Treemonisha.
  • During the two and one half years following the death of Freddie, Berlin (1995:161) notes that Joplin's output was significantly diminished with the publication of only three new rags (Leola, Eugenia, and The Nonpareil, all below), Bethena (below) and a number of less successful compositions.
  • In 1905, John Stark opened an office in New York (Berlin, 1995:151). However, it appears that Stark found the sheet music industry in New York cutthroat and extremely competitive since he only lasted in New York until 1910 (Berlin, 1995:195).
  • Trivia: Joplin's Augustan Club Waltzes (below) should have been spelled "Augustain" after the Augustain Club in Sedalia (Berlin, 1995:79-80). In addition, Joplin's Bink's Waltz (below) should have been named "Bing's" waltz, the nickname of the boy in whose honor the piece was composed (Berlin, 1995:149).

 

Time in New York (1907 to 1917)

  • Joplin moved to New York, likely in the summer of 1907.
  • Berlin (1995:223-25) discusses detailed research regarding Lottie Joplin, who Joplin "married" (likely in a common law marriage) sometime in the late 1910's. Lottie also ran a boarding house and appears to have managed some of Joplin's late career, being a partner in Scott Joplin Music Publishing Ltd., which published Magnetic Rag in 1914 (below). Lottie survived Scott Joplin's death and continued to be involved in the affairs of his estate by renewing copyrights in his compositions. Berlin discusses some of the litigation surrounding Joplin's estate in Chapter 13 of his book.
  • Joplin made contact with several new publishers in New York, including:
  • Joseph Stern, who published Gladious Rag (1907) (below), Searchlight Rag (1907) (below), Stoptime Rag (1910) (below) and Scott Joplin's New Rag (1912) (below);
  • Joseph Daly, who published Rose Leaf Rag (1907) (below); and,
  • Seminary Music, who was the selling agent for Joplin's piano exercises entitled School of Ragtime (1908) (below) and who also published Sugar Cane (1908) (below), Pine Apple Rag (1908) (below), Wall Street Rag (1909) (below), Solace: A Mexican Serenade (1909) (below), Pleasant Moments: Ragtime Waltz (1909) (below), Country Club (1909) (below), Paragon Rag (1909) (below), and Euphonic Sounds (1909) (below).
  • It is likely that Joplin explored publishers other than John Stark due in part to a growing rift between the two men regarding Stark's reluctance to pay royalties (Berlin, 1995:186).
  • Late in 1907, it is believed that Joplin met with Joseph F. Lamb in Stark's New York store (Berlin, 1995:173). Later Lamb visited Joplin and played several of his rags. It is likely that Joplin played an influential role in having Lamb's compositions published with Stark. Evidence of this is Joplin being named as "arranger" of Sensation (available here), although it is likely that Lamb wrote and arranged the piece himself.
  • Despite his increasingly declining health, life in New York was relatively good for Joplin, where he was enjoying some public success (Berlin, 1995: 192):

In New York, he displayed a renewed vigor. In a span of two and a half years he had sixteen publications: twelve independent rags, one collaborative rag, one syncopated waltz, one habanera and one instruction manual. Many of these publications were artistic successes, both developing ideas introduced earlier and pointing to new directions in ragtime.

  • It is believed that Joplin finished his opera, Treemonisha (see below), in 1910. He apparently approached a number of publishers, including Stark, Seminary and Joseph Stern, each of whom rejected his 230-page score. Joplin eventually published the opera himself in 1911 (Berlin, 1995:198). More information on Treemonisha is available here and here; the Library of Congress has an online essay on Treemonisha here.

 

Frolice of the Bears Sheet Music Cover

 

Left: Cover page of dance "Frolic of the Bears" from Treemonisha.

 

  • Joplin was described as depressed and morose by William Sullivan, a white Canadian who was taking piano lessons from Joplin in New York from about 1910 to 1912: Berlin (1995:213). Apparently he was depressed over money, health and the difficulties he was facing in getting Treemonisha staged.
  • Joplin's later rags became much more complex and sophisticated, including Euphonic Sounds (below), Paragon Rag (below) and Stoptime Rag (below), and his final rag, Magnetic Rag (below). Berlin (1995:220) describes his later works as "stretching the boundaries". For a detailed analysis of Joplin's late rags, see Guy Waterman's chapter entitled "Joplin's Late Rags: An Analysis" in J.E. Hasse, ed., Ragtime: Its History, Composers, and Music. New York, NY: Schirmer Books, 1985:232-42.
  • Berlin (1995:233) effectively summarizes Joplin's last years in New York, a time when his compositions were growing in complexity at the same time his health was seriously declining:

Though the 46-year old Joplin was almost at the end of his career, in seriously declining health, he was not declining as a musician. He was still master of his craft, at the height of his creative powers. He was continuing to respond to his musical environment, thinking in new ways, creating a new type of ragtime. This was a growing, dynamic composer betrayed by a failing body.

  • Joplin became quite sick in early 1917 and entered Bellevue Hospital. On February 3, 1917, he was transferred to the mental ward of Manhattan State Hospital. He died there on April 1, 1917, at the age of approximately 49 from "demential paralytica" likely caused by syphillis: Berlin (1995:238).
  • Stark published Reflection Rag (below), which Joplin likely wrote in around 1907, as a tribute to Joplin after Joplin died (Berlin, 1995:240).
  • Joplin also achieved posthumous fame in a number of other ways, including the staging of Treemonisha on Broadway and other venues, having his music featured in the 1973 movie The Sting, being awarded a special Bicentennial Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for his contribution to American music, having Billy Dee Williams portray him in a 1977 movie about his life, and having his portrait issued on a U.S. stamp in 1983.

 

3)  Sheet Music of Scott Joplin Compositions     [top]

The sheet music below of Scott Joplin compositions is set out roughly chronologically into the following three sections: (a) Joplin rags, marches and waltzes; (b) compositions on which Joplin collaborated or arranged; and (c) Joplin songs.

a)  Joplin Rags, Marches and Waltzes    [top]

 

The Great Crush Collision March Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. The Great Crush Collision March. Temple, TX: John R. Fuller, 1896.

[view sheet music]

Harmony Club Waltzes Sheet Music Cover

Joplin, Scott. Harmony Club Waltzes. Temple, TX: Robert Smith, 1896.

[view sheet music]

Combinaton March Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Combination March. Temple, TX: Robert Smith, 1896.

[view sheet music]

Original Rags Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Original Rags. Kansas City, MO: Carl Hoffman Music, 1899.

[view sheet music]

Source: Duke University, Historic American Sheet Music  [top]

Maple Leaf Rag Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Maple Leaf Rag. Sedalia, MO: John Stark & Son, 1899.

[view sheet music]

Source: Indiana University Sheet Music Collections  [top]

Peacherine Rag Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Peacherine Rag. St. Louis, MO: John Stark & Son, 1901.

[view sheet music]

Augustan Club Waltzes Sheet Music Cover

Joplin, Scott. Augustan Club Waltzes. St. Louis, MO: John Stark & Son, 1901.

[view sheet music]

The Easy Winners: A Ragtime Two-Step Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. The Easy Winners: A Ragtime Two Step. St. Louis, MO: Scott Joplin, 1901.

[view sheet music]

Source: Indiana University Sheet Music Collections  [top]

Cleopha Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Cleopha. St. Louis, MO: S. Simon, 1902.

[view sheet music]

The Strenuous Life Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. The Strenuous Life. St. Louis, MO: John Stark & Son, 1902.

[view sheet music]

The Ragtime Dance Two Step Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. The Ragtime Dance Two Step.  St. Louis, MO: John Stark & Son, 1906.

[view sheet music]

Source:  Cover from Library of Congress, Music Division    [top]

A Breeze From Alabama Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. A Breeze From Alabama. St. Louis, MO: John Stark & Son, 1902.

[view sheet music]

Source:  Cover from Library of Congress, Music Division  [top]

Elite Syncopations Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Elite Syncopations. St. Louis, MO: John Stark & Son, 1902.

[view sheet music]

Source:  Cover from Library of Congress, Music Division  [top]

March Majestic Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. March Majestic.  St. Louis, MO: John Stark & Son, 1902.

[view sheet music]

The Entertainer Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. The Entertainer. St. Louis, MO: John Stark & Co., 1902.

[view sheet music]

Source: Johns Hopkins University Levy Collection  [top]

Weeping Willow Ragtime Two Step Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Weeping Willow. St. Louis, MO: Val A. Reis Music Co., 1903.

[view sheet music]

Source:  Cover from Library of Congress, Music Division  [top]

Palm Leaf Rag: A Slow Drag Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Palm Leaf Rag: A Slow Drag. New York, NY: Victor Kremer Co., 1903.

[view sheet music]

Source: Indiana University Sheet Music Collections  [top]

The Favourite Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. The Favorite. Sedalia, MO: A.W. Perry & Sons, 1903.

[view sheet music]

Source: Johns Hopkins University Levy Collection   [top]

The Sycamore: A Concert Rag Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. The Sycamore: A Concert Rag. Chicago, IL: Will Rossiter, 1904.

[view sheet music]

Source:  Cover from Library of Congress, Music Division  [top]

The Cascades: A Rag Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. The Cascades: A Rag. St. Louis, MO: John Stark & Son, 1904.

[view sheet music]

Source: Indiana University Sheet Music Collections  [top]

The Chrysanthemum Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. The Chrysanthemum.  St. Louis, MO: John Stark & Son, 1904.

[view sheet music]

Source: Indiana University Sheet Music Collections  [top]

Rosebud March Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Rosebud March. St. Louis, MO: John Stark & Son, 1905.

[view sheet music]

Source: Johns Hopkins University Levy Collection  [top]

Bethena: A Concert Waltz Sheet Music Cover

Joplin, Scott. Bethena: A Concert Waltz. St. Louis, MO: Bahnsen Music Co. Ltd., 1905.

[view sheet music]

Leola Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Leola. St. Louis, MO: American Music Syndicate, 1905.

[view sheet music]

Binks' Waltz Sheet Music Cover

Joplin, Scott. Binks' Waltz. St. Louis, MO: Bahnsen Music Co. Ltd., 1905.

[view sheet music]

Eugenia Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Eugenia. Chicago, IL: Will Rossiter, 1906.

[view sheet music]

Source:  Cover from Library of Congress, Music Division  [top]

Antoinette Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin, Antoinette. March and Two-Step. St. Louis, MO: Stark Music Co., 1906.

[view sheet music]

Source: Johns Hopkins University Levy Collection  [top]

Gladiolus Rag Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Gladiolus Rag. New York, NY: Joseph W. Stern, 1907.

[view sheet music]

Source: Indiana University Sheet Music Collections  [top]

Searchlight Rag Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Searchlight Rag. New York, NY: Jos. W. Stern, 1907.

[view sheet music]

Source: Duke University, Historic American Sheet Music  [top]

Nonpareil Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. The Nonpareil. St. Louis, MO: Stark Music Co., 1907.

[view sheet music]

Rose Leaf Rag Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Rose Leaf Rag. Boston, MA: Jos. M. Daly Music Pub. Co., 1907.

[view sheet music]

Source: Indiana University Sheet Music Collections  [top]

School of Rag Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. School of Ragtime. New York, NY: Scott Joplin, 1908.

[view sheet music]

Fig Leaf Rag Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Fig Leaf Rag. St. Louis, MO: Stark Music Co., 1908.

[view sheet music]

Source:  Cover from Library of Congress, Music Division  [top]

Sugar Cane Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Sugar Cane. New York, NY: Seminary Music Co., 1908.

[view sheet music]

Source: Indiana University Sheet Music Collections  [top]

Pine Apple Rag Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Pine Apple Rag. New York, NY: Seminary Music Co., 1908.

[view sheet music]

Source: University of Colorado Digital Sheet Music Collection  [top]

Wall Street Rag Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Wall Street Rag. New York, NY: Seminary Music Co., 1909.

[view sheet music]

Source:  Cover from Library of Congress, Music Division  [top]

Solace: A Mexican Serenade Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Solace: A Mexican Serenade. New York, NY: Seminary Music Co., 1909.

[view sheet music]

Source:  Cover from Library of Congress, Music Division  [top]

Pleasant Moments: Ragtime Waltz Sheet Music Cover

Joplin, Scott. Pleasant Moments: Ragtime Waltz. New York, NY: Seminary Music Co., 1909.

[view sheet music] [Listen to Connorized Roll purportedly played by Scott Joplin]

Country Club Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Country Club. New York, NY: Seminary Music Co., 1909.

[view sheet music]

Source: University of Colorado Digital Sheet Music Collection  [top]

Paragon Rag Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Paragon Rag.  New York, NY: Seminary Music Co., 1909.

[view sheet music]

Source:  Cover from Library of Congress, Music Division  [top]

Euphonic Sounds Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Euphonic Sounds. New York, NY: Seminary Music Co., 1909.

[view sheet music]

Source: University of Colorado Digital Sheet Music Collection  [top]

Stoptime Rag Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Stoptime Rag. New York, NY: Joseph W. Stern, 1910.

[view sheet music]

Treemonisha Cover

Scott Joplin. Treemonisha. New York, NY: Scott Joplin, 1911.

[view preface and Table of Contents] (5 pages, PDF). The Library of Congress has the complete score online, available here.

The vocal score to the left can be purchased here.

Scott Joplin's New Rag Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Scott Joplin's New Rag. New York, NY: Joseph W. Stern, 1912.

[view sheet music]

Source: Indiana University Sheet Music Collections  [top]

Magnetic Rag Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Magnetic Rag. New York, NY: Scott Joplin Music Publishing Co., 1914.

[view sheet music]

Reflection Rag: Syncopated Musings Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Reflection Rag. St. Louis, MO: Stark Music Co., 1917.

[view sheet music]

Source:  Cover from Library of Congress, Music Division  [top]

Cover for Folio to Scott Joplin's Collected Piano Works

Scott Joplin. Silver Swan Rag. Trust of Lottie Joplin Thomas, 1971.

Work still protected by copyright. Available in Vera Brodsky Lawrence, ed., Scott Joplin: Complete Piano Works (New York, NY: New York Public Library, 1971).

 

b) Joplin Collaborations and Arrangements    [top]

 

Felicity Rag Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin (and Scott Hayden). Felicity Rag. St. Louis, MO: Stark Music  Co., 1911.

[view sheet music]

Source: Johns Hopkins University Levy Collection  [top]

Heliotrope Bouquet Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin (and Louis Chauvin). Heliotrope Bouquet: A Slow Drag Two-Step. St. Louis, MO: Stark Music Printing and Pub. Co., 1907.

[view sheet music]

Kismet Rag Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin (and Scott Hayden). Kismet Rag. St. Louis, MO: Stark Music Company, 1913.

[view sheet music]

Source:  Cover from Library of Congress, Music Division  [top]

Lily Queen: A Ragtime Two-Step Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin (and Arthur Marshall). Lily Queen. New York, NY: Willis Woodward, 1907.

[view sheet music]

Source:  Cover from Library of Congress, Music Division  [top]

Something Doing Cake Walk March Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin (and Scott Hayden). Something Doing. St. Louis, MO: Val A. Reis Music Co., 1903.

[view sheet music]

Source:  Cover from Library of Congress, Music Division  [top]

Sunflower Slow Drag Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin (and Scott Hayden). Sunflower Slow Drag. St. Louis, MO: John Stark and Son, 1900.

[view sheet music]

Source: Indiana University Sheet Music Collections  [top]

Swipesy Cake Walk Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin (and Arthur Marshall). Swipesy Cake Walk. St. Louis, MO: John Stark and Son, 1900.

[view sheet music]

Source: Indiana University Sheet Music Collections  [top]

 

c) Joplin Songs    [top]

 

Please Say You Will (Song): Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Please Say You Will. Syracuse, NY: M.L. Mantell, 1895.

[view sheet music]

Source: Photocopy from the New York State Library  [top]

A Picture Of Her Face Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. A Picture Of Her Face. Syracuse, NY: Scott Joplin, 1895.

[view sheet music]

Source: Photocopy from the New York State Library  [top]

I Am Thinking of My Pickaninny Days

Scott Joplin. I Am Thinking of My Pickaninny Days (lyrics by Henry Jackson). St. Louis, MO: Thiebes Sterlin Music Co., 1901.

[view sheet music]

Source: Library of Congress, Music Division  [top]

Little Black Baby Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Little Black Baby (lyrics by Louis Armstrong Bristol). Chicago, IL. 1903.

[view sheet music]

Source: Library of Congress, Music Division  [top]

Maple Leaf Rag Song Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Maple Leaf Rag (song) (words by Sydney Brown). St. Louis, MO: John Stark & Son, 1903.

[view sheet music]

Source: Library of Congress, Music Division  [top]

Sarah Dear Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Sarah Dear (lyrics by Henry Jackson). St. Louis, MO: Bahnsen Music Co., 1905.

[view sheet music]

Source: Library of Congress, Music Division  [top]

When Your Hair is Like the Snow Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. When Your Hair is Like the Snow (words by Owen Spendthrift). St. Louis, MO: Owen Spendthrift, 1907.

[view sheet music]

Source: Library of Congress, Music Division  [top]

Snoring Sampson: A Quarrel in Ragtime Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin, arranger. Composed by Harry LaMertha. Snoring Sampson: A Quarrel in Ragtime. St. Louis, MO: University Music Publishing Co., 1907.

[view sheet music]

Source: Library of Congress, Music Division  [top]

Pine Apple Rag (Song) Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Pine Apple Rag (song) (J. Snyder). New York, 1910.

[view sheet music]

Source: University of Mississippi Libraries  [top]

 

Scott Joplin. Lovin' Babe. 1911

 

Scott Joplin. A Real Slow Drag. 1913 (excerpt from Treemonisha).

Frolice of the Bears Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Frolic of the Bears. New York: Scott Joplin Music Publishing Co., 1915.

[view sheet music]

Source: Library of Congress, Music Division  [top]

 

4)  .MP3 Recordings by me of Scott Joplin Compositions    [top]

Set out below is an experimental .MP3 of me playing Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag. I hope to add more recordings shortly.

Maple Leaf Rag Sheet Music Cover

Scott Joplin. Maple Leaf Rag. Sedalia, MO: John Stark & Son, 1899.

[.MP3] (recorded 30 June 2006 in Toronto by Ted Tjaden, including lots of mistakes!)

[view sheet music]

Source: Indiana University Sheet Music Collections  [top]

 

There are also a number of widely available commercial recordings of Scott Joplin compositions:

 

Commercial Recordings of Scott Joplin Compositions:

Set out below is only a select list of Joplin recordings; there are many, many more available.

  • Guido Nielsen, Scott Joplin: The Complete, Rags, Marches, Waltzes & Songs. Basta Records, 2004. Purchase details here.
  • John Arpin, John Arpin Plays Scott Joplin, Vol. 1 and 2. Purchase details here.
  • Joshua Rifkin, Scott Joplin Piano Rags. Nonesuch Records, 1990. Purchase details here.
  • Richard Zimmerman, Scott Joplin: His Complete Works. Bescol Records, 1994. Purchase details here.

I hope to shortly order the following CD from Deutsche Grammophon, a recording from 2005 of Joplin's Treemonisha:

  • Gunther Schuller, conductor. Treemonisha (Deutsche Grammophon). Purchase details here.

 

MIDI Recordings of Scott Joplin Compositions

A number of ragtime music enthusiasts have made MIDI recordings of Scott Joplin compositions available for free on the Internet:

 

5)  Bibliography  [top]

  • Berlin, Edward A. "Eleanor Stark: From Moszkowski to Classic Ragtime" in Music, American Made: Essays in Honor of John Graziano. Sterling Heights, MI: Harmonie Park Press, 2011.
  • Berlin, Edward A. King of Ragtime: Scott Joplin and his Era. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1995.
  • Berlin, Edward A. Ragtime: A Musical and Cultural History. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1980.  
  • Blesh, Rudi and Harriet Grossman Janis. They All Played Ragtime. 4th ed. New York, N.Y.: Oak Publications, 1966.
  • Curtis, Susan. Dancing to a Black Man's Tune. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1994.
  • Frew, Timothy. Scott Joplin and the Age of Ragtime. New York, NY: Friedman Fairfax, 1996.
  • Gammond, Peter. Scott Joplin and the Ragtime Era. London: Angus & Robertson, 1975.
  • Hasse, J.E., ed. Ragtime: Its History, Composers, and Music. New York, NY: Schirmer Books, 1985.
  • Hubbard-Brown, Janet. Scott Joplin. New York, NY: Chelsea House, 2006.
  • Jasen, David A. and Gene Jones. That American Rag: The Story of Ragtime from Coast to Coast. New York: Schirmer Books, 2000. 
  • Jasen, David A. and Trebor Jay Tichenor. Rags and Ragtime: A Musical History. New York, NY: Dover Publications, 1978.
  • Ping-Robbins, Nancy R. Scott Joplin: A Guide to Research. New York, NY: Garland Pub., 1998.
  • Reed, Addison W. "Scott Joplin: Pioneer" in J.E. Hasse, ed., Ragtime: Its History, Composers, and Music. New York, NY: Schirmer Books, 1985:117-36.
  • Total Joplin: The Complete Works of Scott Joplin (CD-ROM, Sunhawk, 1996). Introduction by Trebor Tichenor. Introduces the user to the life and music of America's ragtime composer Scott Joplin. Includes the complete collection of scores and digitally restored sheet music covers, rarely published Williams-Walker prints, a multimedia review of Joplin's life, and more than five hours of classic ragtime hits.
  • Waldo, Terry. This is Ragtime. New York, NY: De Capo Press, 1991.
  • Waterman, Guy. "Joplin's Late Rags: An Analysis" in J.E. Hasse, ed., Ragtime: Its History, Composers, and Music. New York, NY: Schirmer Books, 1985:232-42.
     

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This site created by Ted Tjaden. Page last updated: July 31, 2013.