Happy Birthday Mr. Joplin!

24 11 2010

Today is yet another cause for celebration. No, it’s not a national holiday, as that’s tomorrow. And although many people consider tonight to be the most popular night of the year to get drunk, I’m celebrating today for another reason. It’s yet another birthday of a famous person. True, this person is no longer alive, but no matter.

That’s right, it’s Scott Joplin’s birthday! Born in 1868, Joplin was 49 when he died. Scott Joplin is definitely one of my favorite musicians. A pianist and composer, he is considered a pioneer of the Ragtime music movement. And in 1893 when he went to Chicago for the World’s Fair, it played a major part in making Ragtime a national craze by 1897.

Ragtime is a combination of classical music, the musical atmosphere present around Texarkana (including work songs, gospel hymns, spirituals and dance music), African-American musical styles, and European forms and melodies. Scott Joplin’s musical talent allowed for him to combine all of these different styles. In the words of one critic, “ragtime was basically… an Afro-American version of the polka, or its analog, the Sousa-style march.” (Wikipedia)

If the name, Scott Joplin doesn’t seem to be ringing a bell with you, I’m sure his music will. One of his most famous pieces, “The Entertainer” is what many people hear when a classic ice cream truck rolls by in the summertime.

Another quite well known piece is the Maple Leaf Rag. It’s pleasant upbeat tempo and constant flow of rhythm and melody makes it hard to dislike. It’s one of those timeless pieces used to convey a certain “old timey” period in history.

Scott Joplin’s music was incorporated into the amazing movie, The Sting, which stars the incredible duo, Paul Newman and Robert Redford. If you have not seen this movie and like Scott Joplin music, those actors, and/or a story of con artists, then this movie is for you. The music in this movie introduced me to some of Joplin’s pieces that are not as familiar as the two above. Below are a few of my favorite other pieces of Joplin’s.

Not only did Scott Joplin create some fantastic music, but his pieces also inspired some pretty wonderful artwork as well. Just take a look at some of these sheet music covers. I just adore the 19th century style of typography and flourishes.

So let’s tip our hats to Mr. Scott Joplin on his birthday today. You sir, were quite a fine gentleman of delightful tunes. On this Thanksgiving eve, I am thankful to be celebrating the life and music of the great Scott Joplin. Happy Birthday, Scott Joplin!




One response

25 11 2010

One of my favorite musicians who had syphillis! 🙂

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