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Ragtime Musician Scott Joplin—A Rough Road To Travel In Many Respects

Below is the profile of Ragtime musician Scott Joplin (above) from the book Who’s Who In The 20th Century. This book was published by Oxford University Press. Mr. Joplin lived 1868-1917. 

“Born in Texarkana, Texas, Jopin won several local piano contests before turning his attention exclusively to the syncopated piano style known as ragtime. A strong influence on the stride piano style of Fats Waller,ragtime became a precursor of Jazz. The first two pieces called rags were written in 1897-98: two of Joplin’sbest known, “Original Rags” and “Maple Leaf Rag” were written in 1899. The latter was so successful that a publishing company was formed on the strength of it, and a million copies of the sheet music were soon sold, Ragtime became nationally popular and for a time Joplin achieved his ambition of wealth and fame…However, he he aspired to create a more serious school of ragtime composition although the style does not sustain extended forms. He also wrote two operas…and started an opera company based on ragtime. None of these ventures succeed…These failures , the ravages of syphilis and the declining interest in ragtime combined to lead to his early death in a mental house. He wrote about fifty piano rags, of which many are subtle and stylish compositions as well as delightful period pieces.”

Black people of high creativity long had a very rough road to travel in America. Please click here for Texas Liberal posts on the great actor Ira Aldridge and the writer Paul Laurence Dunbar.

For Mr. Joplin, beyond the barriers his skin color presented, he was also hindered by the artistic limits of his music. You don’t have to know much about either ragtime or opera, to wonder about an opera made from rag music.  

My guess is that Mr. Joplin did the best he could against the obstacles he faced. 

Here is more information about Mr. Joplin. 

Here is more information about Ragtime music.

August 16, 2008 Posted by | Books, History | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What Type Of Exile Should We Choose?

What type of exile should we choose? What types of exile are chosen for us? 

In Colonial America, Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson chose banishment from Massachusetts rather than renounce their views on how best to communicate with God. They went to the wilderness of Rhode Island.

When I was young, I hung out often at a punk rock club called The Jockey Club in Newport, Kentucky. This was a kind of “soft exile.” I wanted to be with people more like myself if just for a few hours. 

In the 19th Century, the black American actor Ira Aldridge went to Europe because he could not find roles in the United States.

In Ancient Rome, exile from Rome was a punishment one could receive.

Many of us withdraw to an extent just to get through the day.

Can exile serve as a creative force beyond simply serving as a device for sanity?

I’d say yes.

Artists often have what are termed as “retreats.” 

Martin Luther King wrote his Letter From A Birmingham Jail while in a type of forced exile.

I don’t think I could fully trust anyone who, for whatever reasons, does not seek some level of exile from this world.

Ideally, exile serves ultimately as a path to finding a way to be more strongly engaged with the world.  

September 14, 2007 Posted by | Art, Best Posts July-Dec. 2007, Colonial America, History, Politics, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments