Ragtime Music of St. Louis

Home of Scott Joplin, located at 2658 A Delmar (formerly Morgan Street)
in St. Louis, Mo.(On Delmar, just west of Jefferson Ave.) It is now a State Historic site
and ragtime museum. Joplin is considered, "The King of Ragtime".

What is Ragtime ?

     Ragtime originated with Black American musicians and is considered to be an early form of Jazz. Like Classical music it is very sophisticated, usually composed and is very similiar to marches. It appears to have gradually evolved out of musical pieces known as "cake walks", with the first true rag being the "Louisiana Rag", published in Oct. 1897, by Theodore H. Northrup. Ben Harney, sometimes referred as the "originator of Rag", was first to publish compositions known as "rags" but they were little more than cake walks.  Encyclopedia Americana describes Ragtime as a music generally played on the piano with "highly rhythmic with a steady beat..." with "synopated melodies, played by the right hand...that contrast with the steady strong-and-weak alternations... played by the left hand." Also described as "embodying the prototypical melodic outline AABBCCDD", with "frequently a repeat of A interpolated between the C and D sections."

     While Scott Joplin is widely noted as the "King of Ragtime", his first rag, the Maple Leaf Rag, which he named after the Sedalia, Missouri cafe where he played the piano, was not published until 1899. Joplin, the son of a slave, was born Nov. 24, 1868 in Texarkana, Texas. At a young age he showed great musical ability and taught himself to play the piano. As a young man he travelled the Mississippi valley, playing in honky-tonks and cafes. With his association with the Texas Medley Vocal Quartet, he created his first compositions in 1895. He later moved to Sedalia, Missouri where he played in the Queen City Negro Band. Here he also received a formal music education and degree at the George R. Smith College for Negroes. His friend John Stark helped him publish his piece, the Maple Leaf Rag, in 1899 which was a great success. With the money from its sale, Joplin was able to move to St. Louis and purchase a home.  While living in St. Louis from 1900 to 1903, Joplin composed, "The Entertainer", "Elite Syncopations", "March Majestic", and "Ragtime Dance". At St. Louis Joplin also wrote an opera, "A Guest of Honor", but that piece has been lost and can't be reproduced.

Listen to the Music of Scott Joplin

Midi files courtesy of Benjamin Robert Tubb

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 Maple Leaf Rag (Composed  in Sedalia, Mo. by Scott Joplin, published in 1899 by John Stark & Son,  St. Louis, Mo.)

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The Entertainer (Composed in St. Louis by Scott Joplin, published 1902 by John Stark & Son, St. Louis, Mo.)
(This tune was used in the soundtrack for the 1970's movie, "The Sting")

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Fig Leaf (Composed by Scott Joplin, published 1908))

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Heliotrope Bouquet, composed by Scott Joplin and Louis Chauvin, published 1907 by The Stark Music Co. in St.
Louis, MO. This is a what is called a "slow drag two-step".

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Rosebud, composed by Scott Joplin and published 1905 by John Stark & Son, Sheet Music Publishers, St. Louis, Mo.
(Note: This is a two-step march, named after the Rosebud Cafe, owned by Thomas Turpin. Joplin writes, "Respectfully Dedicated to my friend Tom Turpin".)

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The St. Louis Rag (Composed by Thomas Turpin, published 1903, New York: Sol Bloom, New Amsterdam Theatre Building.)
(Note: Thomas Turpin, owner of the famous "Rose Bud Cafe"  where Joplin played the piano, is considered "the Father of St. Louis Ragtime")

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For modern piano renditions of Scott Joplin's work:

Rich Egan http://stlouis.missouri.org/501c/fsjoplin/artistsre.htm

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