Scott Joplin, the wizard of ragtime

Herb Boyd | 12/5/2013, 2:38 p.m.

His musical legacy was revived in 1974 when one of his compositions, “The Entertainer,” was the theme song for the film “The Sting.” It was during this same period that “Treemonisha” was finally given a full staging.

Those of you interested in hearing Joplin at the keyboard, captured on a piano roll, can go to YouTube. Several other performances are also available on the site.

If you are among those of greater interest and with a bit more capital, there is the annual Scott Joplin Music Festival in Sedalia each June. For more information, visit www.scottjoplin.org/foundation.htm.


Ragtime is the music associated with Scott Joplin, but what is it and does it differ from other music? To get an understanding of this genre of music is not that difficult; it’s just a matter of giving it a close listen and researching what is meant by syncopation.


Joplin was born out West but migrated to the East. What do you believe was his motivation and why was New York City his destination? He never lived to see his opera performed. What may have been some reasons why it was not staged during his lifetime?


Joplin arrived in Harlem in 1912, and this was just after the community began to blossom into what it is today. Who were some of the other early pioneers of this era and what might have been their connection to Joplin?