Scott Joplin

Scott Joplin personified ragtime; he was its chief champion, the figure most closely associated with its composition. It was Joplin's short, hard-driving melodies- -and the syncopated backbone he furnished them--that helped define the musical parameters of ragtime, a style that gave voice to the African American experience during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Sadly, for all his accomplishments in putting a new musical form on the map, Joplin spent his final years madly obsessed with a fruitless crusade to enter, if not conquer, another arena: opera, the staid, classical venue accepted by a white community that had for so long ridiculed ragtime as cheap, vulgar, and facile black music.

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