The Entertainer by Scott Joplin, 1902
Scott Joplin, an African American composer and musician composed The Entertainer in 1902 as a two-step dance rag-time piano solo during his time in St. Louis, MO. The piece has been a favorite ever since, showing up in movies, such as The Sting and earning its rank at #10 on Recording Industry Association of America’s “Songs of the Century” list (Wikipedia, The Entertainer).
Considered an iconic member of the advance of the African Americans in the arts in the early 20th century, Joplin spread his talent through Texas, St. Louis, Mo, and NYC, NY. Rag-time has even been dubbed “African-American polka.” Unfortunately Joplin succumbed to syphilis and died in an institution at the early age of 49 (Wikipedia, Scott Joplin) and was placed in an unmarked pauper’s grave. Regardless, Joplin’s talent and influence is alive and well today and has been recognized by the popularity of his music, his influence on the African-American arts, and his induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
This composition never ceases to bring a smile to my face– its lively pace and beats instantly make you tap along, begging your body to move. As a child, I would ask my brother to play it on the piano over and over again. That memory stands out in my mind each time I hear it.