The following is a complete list of musical compositions by Scott Joplin (ca. 1867–April 1, 1917).
Scott Joplin in 1903
Sheet music cover page, 1901
Sheet music cover page, 1905
Sheet cover page 1906.
Sheet music cover page, 1909
Treemonisha cover, 1911
Sheet music cover page, 1914
Scott Joplin was born in Northeast Texas in around 1867, just outside of Texarkana, and died April 1st 1917 in New York of dementia brought on by advanced syphilis. He was an American composer and pianist, who achieved fame for his ragtime compositions, and was dubbed "The King of Ragtime". During his brief career, Joplin wrote over 40 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two operas. One of his first pieces, the "Maple Leaf Rag" (1899) has been recognized as the archetypal rag and influenced subsequent rag composers for at least 12 years thanks to its rhythmic patterns, melody lines, and harmony.
His finances were precarious throughout his career, despite a steady income from the "Maple Leaf Rag". Joplin had the majority of his works published by John Stark of Sedalia, Missouri although he did use other lesser-known companies including his own "Scott Joplin Music Publishing Company". His first opera A Guest of Honor was lost after an unsuccessful tour in 1903. After the death of his widow, Lottie, in 1953 a number of manuscripts of unpublished work were lost and no copies of them are known to exist.
When Joplin was learning the piano, serious musical circles condemned ragtime because of its association with the vulgar and inane songs of Tin Pan Alley. As a composer Joplin refined ragtime, developing it from the dance music played by pianists in brothels in cities like St. Louis. This new art form, the classic rag, combined Afro-American folk music's syncopation and nineteenth-century European romanticism, with its harmonic schemes and its march-like tempos, in particular the works of John Philip Sousa. With this as a foundation, Joplin intended his compositions to be played exactly as he wrote them – without improvisation. Joplin wrote his rags as "classical" music to raise ragtime above its "cheap bordello" origins and produced work which opera historian Elise Kirk described as "...more tuneful, contrapuntal, infectious, and harmonically colorful than any others of his era."
There are many inconsistencies between the titles of compositions, their subtitles and their respective cover titles, which was seen by the editor of the collected works as reflecting "an editorial casualness" on the part of the publishers, and indicating a genre in which many different dance-steps could be performed interchangeably. Many of the works cannot be dated with certainty and the pieces were not always sent to the Copyright Office for copyright registration. In many cases the publication date is the only indication of when the piece was composed.