Christopher W. French
Scott Joplin (born between June 1867 – January 1868; died April 1, 1917) was an American musician and
composer of ragtime music. He remains the best-known ragtime figure and is regarded as one of the three most
important composers of classic ragtime, along with James Scott and Joseph Lamb.

In 1899, Joplin sold what would become his most famous piece, "Maple Leaf Rag" to John Stark & Son, a
Sedalia music publisher. Joplin received a one-cent royalty for each copy and ten free copies for his own use, as
well as an advance. It has been estimated that Joplin made $360 per year on this piece in his lifetime.

With a growing national reputation based on the success of "Maple Leaf Rag", Joplin moved to St. Louis,
Missouri, in early 1900 with his new wife, Belle. While living there, in 1900–1903, he produced some of his best-
known works, including "The Entertainer", "Elite Syncopations", "March Majestic", and "Ragtime Dance".

By 1916, Joplin was suffering from the effects of terminal syphilis. He suffered later from dementia, paranoia,
paralysis and other symptoms.

In mid-January 1917 Joplin was hospitalized at Manhattan State Hospital in New York City, and friends
recounted that he would have bursts of lucidity in which he would jot down lines of music hurriedly before
relapsing. Joplin died there on April 1, 1917. Joplin was 49 or 50 years of age, as his exact birth date is unknown.
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"Maple Leaf Rag" - Played by Christopher W. French
Ragtime Music written by, Scott Joplin, 1899.
Video created October 1, 2007  Running time 3min 19sec.
Click here for more music from Christopher W. French
This Ragtime piano solo, "Maple Leaf Rag", was written by Scott Joplin, in
1897, and was later published by John Stark & Son in 1899. It was one of
Joplin’s most famous Rags.

After learning “The Entertainer”, I was very curious how much work it would
be to also learn the “Maple Leaf Rag”. All went well for me except for the
third section, when it changes key to 5 flats. It wasn’t the 5 flats that made it
difficult, but the left hand bass lines at the measures playing the Bb cords. It’s
such a long reach between beats, and to keep the tempo steady was really a
challenge for me. I knew in the very beginning that would be the last section of
the song I would have mastered. However, (as I continue to practice) the 3rd
section is becoming more comfortable to play. If you are interested in learning
this rag, don’t be discouraged with that part because with enough practice
over time it does finally come together.

My favorite section is the second part. The syncopation and melody is
fantastic, which in my opinion played a major role in making Scott Joplin’s
“Maple Leaf Rag” his most popular. The Maple Leaf Rag is very fun to play.
It’s really impressive to share with your friends or at parties too, that is, if they
have a piano or keyboard to play.

My advice to anyone learning this rag, or any new piano piece for that matter,
is to play very slowly and accurately at first, not being concerned with speed,
because over time speed comes naturally, in the end you will have saved time
and perform much better.

Many people are offended by ragtime music being played too fast, which I
agree can detract from the syncopation and ragtime feel; but it’s also fun to
have a tempo that moves along, so I strive to achieve the best of both worlds.
No matter what instrument a musician plays, he or she will always admit they
can do better, but that’s what keeps us going…for if it were easy; it wouldn’t
bring the satisfaction we enjoy so much afterwards!
Christopher W. French
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Scott Joplin (1868-1917)
Scott Joplin (1868-1917)
I have also recorded the "Maple Leaf Rag" on digital audio. You
can listen to it here on this windows media player (after the video
above is finished playing). This Mp3 version of "Maple Leaf Rag"
is offered to you as a free download, providing that you observe
all of our Mp3 downloading stipulations.
Click here
See Old Time Gospel Hymns
See The Man of Sorrows album
See more music by Christopher W. French
Second edition cover of Maple Leaf Rag
See also "The Entertainer"