Sedalia, Missouri was the home for the early years of jazz great Scott Joplin. Records indicate that Joplin was born in 1868 and lived in Texas as a young boy. It was there that he taught himself to play piano in a white-owned home where his mother worked. Joplin’s talent did not go unnoticed as a German-born music teacher, Julius Weiss, began to instruct him emphasizing the European art forms, including opera. Weiss’ influence is the foundation for Joplin being recognized as a classical composer. In 1891 Joplin joined a minstrel troupe and traveled to the World’s Fair in Chicago where he lead a band and played the cornet. After the fair, he returned home to Sedalia. Joplin played at various events including the town’s two social clubs for black men. He taught several young local musicians in town, most notably Scott Hayden and Arthur Marshal. In 1904 Joplin married Freddie Alexander, who was 20 years old. They traveled by train to Sedalia with stops along the way so Joplin could play with local musicians. Freddie developed a cold which turned into pneumonia and died ten weeks after the marriage. After Freddie’s funeral, Joplin left Sedalia, never to return. Sedalia honors Joplin each year with a festival called the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival. This year it will be held from June 1 to June 4. Highlights of the festival will be the dedication of Nevin Almquist Memorial Bothwell Regional Health Center on Wednesday, June 1. Also, artist and foundation board member, Doug Freed will present his painting in honor of the 2020 Chrysanthemum Award recipient, Nevin Almquist. The festival also will have an evening social and dance. Festival performers will entertain from the stage of the pavilion as patrons mingle and enjoy refreshments. There will be free performances from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., June 2 through June 4. At 2 p.m. on June 2, there will be a celebration of 130 years of ragtime from the sounds of 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition to Tin Pan Alley of 1910s, showpieces of the 1920s and 1930s to the Ragtime Revival of the 1960s and 1970s. At 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 2, the Ragtime Music Hall will hold a special intermission presentation of the Outstanding Achievement Awards. Friday, June 3, starts with free performances but at 2 p.m. is “The Legacy of Scott Joplin”. A special performance begins at 7:30 p.m. with, “Women in Ragtime: Celebrating the Performers”. Saturday, June 4, starts off with free performances. “Women in Ragtime: Celebrating the Performers” will take place at 7:30 p.m.
Sedalia, Missouri was the home for the early years of jazz great Scott Joplin. Records indicate that Joplin was born in 1868 and lived in Texas as a young boy.