Composed by Scott Joplin, the “Maple Leaf Rag” changed the course of modern American music. Joplin was born and raised in Texarkana, Texas, and moved to Sedalia in the 1890s. He performed as a pianist at local Black establishments, including the Maple Leaf Club, while taking music classes at George R. Smith College. In 1899, Joplin, with the help of local music store owner John Stark, published the “Maple Leaf Rag.” In the following years, ragtime spread from St. Louis throughout Missouri, up and down the Mississippi River into cities like Chicago and New Orleans, and eventually across the country. The song became the highest selling “rag” of all time, and launched a primarily Black music genre into the mainstream. Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag” influenced the blues, various forms of jazz, and rock and roll. Ultimately, Joplin and his compositions demonstrate the role of Black musicians and Missouri’s role in shaping American music in the early 20th century.
Creator: Joplin, Scott
Subject: Ragtime music; Joplin, Scott
Contributing Institution: Missouri State Parks - Scott Joplin House State Historic Site
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County: St. Louis City; Polk County
Region: Central, St. Louis Metro