Composer Scott Joplin honored in Texarkana


Scott Joplin mural

Scott Joplin (1868-1917) was a Pulitzer Prize winning composer that grew up in Texarkana and made his mark in the world via Ragtime music. In town, a large mural at 311 Main Street depicts his life and accomplishments. 

Joplin was known as "The Father of Ragtime Music" and while attending the Orr School in Texarkana, he formulated many of his most successful ideas and compositions. He became famous for "The Entertainer," written in 1902, which was used in the 1973 movie “The Sting.” 

“Most folks are familiar with his work whether they know it or not through The Sting movie,” said Dave Mallette, Executive Director of the Regional Music Heritage Center. “Maple Leaf Rag and The Entertainer are heard pretty commonly. Joplin learned the African-American barrelhouse, boogie-woogie, and gospel traditions in his neighborhood and the infamous “Swampoodle” district of Texarkana.  But he also learned classic European composition and music theory from Julius Weiss, a German music teacher in Texarkana who heard him play and was so impressed he taught him free. Joplin combined these two traditions with the “ragged” piano of the time to create Ragtime as we know it today.  Ragtime was for nearly 20 years the most popular music and dance in the U.S. and one of the few popular forms to have rules, which Joplin developed.”