Today in 1868, at least on paper, Scott Joplin was born, though his actual birth date is probably a different day.
Not that we need to wait until his birthday to talk about this great musician.
The “King of Ragtime,” as he was known, defined an entire genre of music, one that was wildly popular in its time and is still remembered almost a century later.
Sing or play the first line from “The Entertainer” and someone else nearby can probably finish off the melody.
But Scott Joplin’s body of work would go beyond ragtime.
In fact, he would write and produce two operas.
By 1901 Joplin was a well-known songwriter and performer.
He and his wife moved to St. Louis, where he planned to focus on teaching music and composing rather than playing live.
He started writing an opera called “A Guest Of Honor,” about the landmark moment when President Theodore Roosevelt invited the famous Black educator and leader Booker T. Washington to eat with him at the White House.
By 1903 he put on several productions of the opera, but someone involved with the show stole the receipts.
Then, someone else took the score because Joplin reportedly couldn’t pay the expenses for his touring performers.
“A Guest Of Honor” is sadly considered lost today.
Almost a decade later, Joplin wrote a second opera, “Treemonisha,” about a young Black woman who overcomes the ignorance around her through education and dedication.
It wasn’t fully staged or appreciated during Joplin’s lifetime, but it would not be forgotten.
In 1972, “Treemonisha” was fully staged for the first time, and a few years later Scott Joplin was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for his contributions to music.
— Dave Mustaine (@DaveMustaine) November 24, 2013
Today in 2013, the frontman for the band Megadeth, Dave Mustaine, tweeted the following: “Cool building in Madison, #Wisconsin out my hotel window. This is a fun college town! Can’t wait for tonight!”
The “cool building” in the accompanying photo… was the Wisconsin Capitol.
Cool building in Madison (Dave Mustaine on Twitter)
Photo via Wikicommons