High Quality Content by WIKIPEDIA articles! Scott Joplin (between July 1867 and January 1868 ? April 1, 1917) was an American composer and pianist, born near Texarkana, Texas, into the first post-slavery generation. He achieved fame for his unique ragtime compositions, and was dubbed the "King of Ragtime." During his brief career, Joplin wrote forty-four original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two operas. One of his first pieces, the Maple Leaf Rag, became ragtime's first and most influential hit, and remained so for a century. He was "blessed with an amazing ability to improvise at the piano," writes opera historian Elise Kirk, and was able to enlarge his talents "with the music he heard around him," which was rich with the sounds of gospel hymns and spirituals, dance music, plantation songs, syncopated rhythms, blues, and choruses.