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King of RagtimeScott Joplin and His Era$
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Edward A. Berlin

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780195101089

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195101089.001.0001

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The Early Years, 1868–1893

The Early Years, 1868–1893

(p.3) Chapter One The Early Years, 1868–1893
King of Ragtime

Edward A. Berlin

Oxford University Press

Known as the “King of ragtime writers,” Scott Joplin composed music unlike any ever before written. As an African-American born to the first post-slavery generation, Joplin had a dream of artistic greatness. Despite the acclaim, Joplin never during his lifetime realized the full fruits of success; however, he prophesied that recognition would come after his death. In this chapter, the author exposes incorrect facts about Joplin including his date of birth, which was declared by no less than his wife Lottie in his death certificate. Some information about his parents and family is also discussed, hinting that theirs was a musical family. His travels also present some inconsistencies. An account of Joplin's early years is necessarily sparse. There is little credible information available from that period. As he attained fame, newspapers began to document his career and person.

Keywords:   Scott Joplin, ragtime, African-American, slavery, Lottie, death certificate, newspapers

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