5 Days of Scott Joplin: Day 3, Original Rags & Scott Joplin Fun Facts

Scott Joplin artwork from Joshua Rifkin piano album

Scott Joplin Fun Facts

♫ Scott Joplin was born into a family of 6 children. He had 5 brothers and sisters! And, most of the Joplin family was very musical. His dad played the violin and his mom sung and played the banjo.
♫ Despite the musical talent in the family, Scott was the first to make a career out of music. His dad was a laborer on the railroad and his mom cleaned houses.
♫ Scott’s dad didn’t even want Scott to play music as a career. From a young age, Scott’s dad encouraged him to get a “practical” job that would better support the family.
♫ Scott’s mom was the one that encouraged him the most. She sought out teachers for him and let him practice as she cleaned houses.
♫ Scott was very self-motivated. He was always serious about learning and eager to make himself better. He practiced every day after school.
♫ Julius Weiss was Scott Joplin’s most influential teacher. He was from Germany and had studied at a European university with a rich music curriculum.
♫ As Scott Joplin’s family was very poor, Julius Weiss taught young Scott for free and even helped the family acquire a used piano.
♫ Scott Joplin wrote over 100 pieces we know about today. While a majority of the music was ragtime, it was all largely influenced by the music Julius Weiss taught him. In his collection of works, there is even one ballet and two operas (with only small references to ragtime).
♫ Scott Joplin loved to teach as much as he loved to learn. Education was so important to him, that he even wrote an opera with a teacher as the focus.
♫ Joplin was very close with several of his students. So close, he married the sister-in-law of one of his students and let a few students live in his house with him and his wife.
♫ The only recordings we have of Scott Joplin’s music are, in fact, not recordings at all. They are what we call “piano rolls”. As Scott Joplin played on a special piano, it etched out holes in a large piece of paper (call a “roll”). Later, when that piece of paper is placed in a special “player piano”, the piano will play back almost exactly what Scott Joplin played himself.

Song of the Day

“Original Rags”

This is a medley of Scott Joplin’s first ever works written.

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