Today in Music History
A Daily Look at Music History For Violin Students
A Look at What Happened on Today's Date
Long, Long Ago . . . Or Maybe Just Last Year
TODAY IS
April 1
1721 - Pieter Hellendaal, Dutch violinist and composer, was born.

1873 - Sergei Rachmaninov, Russian composer and pianist, was born.  Rachmaninov's music at Amazon.  Many Individual Sound Bites

1895 - Alberta Hunter, jazz vocalist and composer, was born.

1901 - Boris Koutzen,  American violinist, teacher and composer, was born.

1902 - US Premiere of Debussy's Prelude to The Afternoon of a Faun.

1932 - Debbie Reynolds, actress and vocalist, was born.

1954 - Premiere of Aaron Copland's opera The Tender Land in NYC. Link Contains sound bites.

1976 - Premiere of David Diamond's Violin Concerto No. 3.

1991 - Martha Graham, US dancer and ballet director, died at age 96. Her Biography at Amazon.

2002 - Premiere of Daniel Asia's Violin sonata. Mark Rush, violin, and Tannis Gibson, piano.
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We read of Debbie Reynolds's birth below.  Her was used to play a popular cartoon program.  Can You Guess what show she was on and what character she played?

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By age 11, Scott was learning harmony and style under Julius Weiss.  Weiss had heard him play and was so impressed that he offered to give Scott lessons for free.  As a teenager, Scott worked as a dance musician.

When Scott 14, he left home and began to perform in minstrel shows, vaudeville and dance halls.  He moved to  St. Louis about 1890. There Scott became deeply involved in a new type of music called "ragtime."  Ragtime is a blend of European classical style with African American harmony and rhythms.

In 1893, the city of Chicago hosted the Colombian Exposition.  Scott performed in venues near the exposition and was quite well received.  The following year moved to Sedalia, in west central Missouri. From there, he toured with his eight-member Texas Medley Quartette as far east as Syracuse, New York.

In the 1890s, Joplin worked at the Black 400 Club and the Maple Leaf Club in Sedalia, which provided the title for one of his best known compositions, the Maple Leaf Rag.  John Stark, a music publisher, heard the piece and bought it immediately.  The money Scott received allowed him to set himself up as a music teacher.  Among his students were Scott Hayden and Arthur Marshall, two men with whom Scott collaborated with to produce several rags.  This allowed him more time to compose.

While in Sedalia, Scott probably attended music classes at George R. Smith College in Sedalia, an institution for African-Americans established by the Methodist Church.  It is at this time that Scott began to use standard music notation when he wrote his music.  A few years later Joplin wrote what may be his best known piece, The Entertainer (Click to hear a midi version). Over the next fifteen years, Scott continued to perform and compose.

During this time Scott attempted his first opera.  He filed a copyright application for A Guest of Honor in 1903.  It was about Booker T. Washington's invitation to dine with President Theodore Roosevelt at the White House in 1901.  The piece was played in St. Louis and started a tour of the midwest.  Several weeks into the tour the box office receipts were stolen.  Unable to pay for the hotel bill for his troupe, Scott had his personal possessions confiscated.  That included the music to the opera.  The music has never been found again.  It was never filed with the US copyright office.

In 1903 Scott met Freddie Alexander, a 19-year-old woman.  He fell in love, and dedicated his piece The Chrysanthemum to her.  Many people considered rags to be a lower form of music, so Scott called this piece an "An Afro-American Intermezzo."  The two married in 1904.  Shortly after the wedding Freddie developed a cold, which progressed into pneumonia.  Freddie died just ten weeks after the wedding.  Distraught, Scott moved from Sedalia, and never returned.

In 1911 Scott moved to New York City, where he devoted himself to the production of his opera, TreemonishaTremonisha is the  the first grand opera known to have been published by an African American. The piece never saw success during Joplin's lifetime, but it won a Pulitzer Prize in 1976.

His health deteriorated, and Scott Joplin died on April 1, 1917.

Although Joplin's music was popular during his lifetime, his work was not recognized as serious music.  In 1973 Joplin's music was featured in the movie, The Sting.  Interest in Joplin rose dramatically, and his music was "discovered" by the public.  It was only then that he received the praise he so richly deserved.
Scott Joplin, the "King of Ragtime" music, died April 1,

He was born near Linden, Texas on November 24, 1868. His family was musical.  His father played the violin, his mother the banjo.  They moved to Texarkana when Scott was about 7.

Even at this early age, Scott had shown himself to be an extraordinary musician.  He already played the banjo, and was starting to learn the piano.
Scott Joplin
1868-1917
Click picture to see Joplin's music at Amazon.
Scott Joplin album
violin students rule shirt
Great Scott: Joplin's Ragtime String Quartets: The Zinn String Quartet - sheet music at www.sheetmusicplus.com Great Scott: Joplin's Ragtime String Quartets: The Zinn String Quartet For Violin. Includes a high-quality printed music score and a compact disc containing the accompaniment, minus you, the soloist. Published by Music Minus One. (MMOCD3151)
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Ragtime Favourites by Scott Joplin - sheet music at www.sheetmusicplus.com Ragtime Favourites by Scott Joplin Violin Play-Along Book/CD Pack. By Scott Joplin. Fentone Play Along Books. Book & CD Package. Size 9x12 inches. 34 pages. Published by Fentone Music/De Haske. (44002551)
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