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American composer and pianist Scott Joplin was born in northeast Texas in 1867 and died in New York in 1917. He came from a musical family and worked as a travelling musician. In 1890 he settled in Missouri, and started composing songs and ragtime pieces for the piano. He regarded ragtime as a serious art form and not simply popular entertainment so he embarked on the composition of a ragtime opera, Treemonisha completed in 1910 but it failed to reach the stage in his lifetime. He became known as the King of Ragtime, and the elegance of the Joplin tradition justifies this worthy accolade. Maple Leaf Rag became so successful that it provided Joplin with a steady though modest income; The Entertainer, which is probably better known than any of his Rags and is frequently requested with The Easy Winners at business lunches, quickly followed this. Though not in a slow waltz tempo, the gentle and tender Palm Leaf Rag has the character of a more refined Landler and it is not difficult to see from this little gem, why this bewitching quality of ragtime inspired a national craze, which lasted for two decades.
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