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

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199740321

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199740321.001.0001

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A Guest of Honor, 1903

A Guest of Honor, 1903

(p.148) Chapter 10 A Guest of Honor, 1903
King of Ragtime

Edward A. Berlin

Oxford University Press

Joplin’s first opera, A Guest of Honor, is lost, but evidence indicates it was about Booker T. Washington’s dinner at Theodore Roosevelt’s White House. The opera, with a cast of thirty, was scheduled to show in fifteen towns and cities. Its official opening, on September 2, 1903, was aborted when the score and costumes were confiscated: the manager, Frank W. Meiser, had absconded with funds needed to pay a boarding house bill. The score has never been recovered. Problems in Joplin’s personal life included the death of a child born to him and Belle Jones, Belle’s leaving him, and the death of his younger brother Will Joplin, with whom he had performed in 1902. Stark published a song version of Maple Leaf Rag, but it’s unlikely that Joplin was involved in the transformation as the music is clumsily arranged; the lyric, also, is very poor.

Keywords:   A Guest of Honor, ragtime opera, Frank W. Meiser, Theodore Roosevelt, Booker T. Washington, Will Joplin, Belle Jones

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