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Old 30 July 2010, 09:07 PM
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snopes snopes is offline
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Location: California
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Icon106 Scott Joplin

Comment: Part of what has made our country great is that so many people
have made sacrifices for things they believed in. And I don't just mean
the famous ones, the names we all recognize. There are those who gave up
everything they ever wanted because they had principles that couldn't be
compromised. And even though their names aren't in the history books, we
owe them a great debt.
Take the story of Rollin Rodgers, for example. I'm sure
you've never heard of him, and there's no reason you should have. He
never became rich or famous. But the reason he didn't become rich or
famous is the story that's worth telling.
Rollin Rodgers came from a small town in Texas, but his family
knew he was destined for greatness as a singer. From the time he was a
little boy, he could sing. And after he began studying voice seriously,
he started to get noticed. He moved from that little town onto the opera
stage. Within a couple of years, he was offered a contract by the
Metropolitan Opera. That's right, every singer's dream. The kid from
Texas was going to sing at the Met.
Well, you know it's customary for a performer to get
complimentary tickets to a performance for their family and friends, and
Rollin asked for several tickets. He especially wanted to bring his first
music teacher, who had meant so much to him as a boy.
But the Met had a problem with that. You see, Rollin's old
teacher was black, and in those days the Met wouldn't allow a black man
into the opera. Rollin insisted. His teacher had fallen on hard times,
and he knew this would mean a lot to him. No, the Met wouldn't budge.
Rollin got angrier and angrier, until he finally threatened to quit if
they didn't let his teacher in.
Of course they told him if he walked away from his Met
contract, he'd never sing professionally again; no one would hire him
anywhere. But Rollin didn't budge either, and so one of the most
promising opera careers in America was over before it started, and Rollin
went back home to Texas.
But the story doesn't end there. Remember I said the teacher
had fallen on hard times? Well, that's an understatement. He had money
problems and health problems, he'd just gone through a messy divorce, and
he'd totally given up on music. When word got back to him what his former
student had done, it made him think. Rollin had sacrificed his career for
him, and the least he could do was to take up his music again, to show
that it hadn't been in vain.
And that's what he did. He started to perform again, and to
compose. And even though he never made a lot of money, he helped create a
whole new form of American music. It's a Little Known Fact that this
small-town music teacher, for whom Rollin Rodgers gave up everything,
later became known as the King of Ragtime. Scott Joplin
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Old 30 July 2010, 09:10 PM
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Ramblin' Dave Ramblin' Dave is offline
Join Date: 11 May 2005
Location: Singapore
Posts: 13,120

Joplin did have a messy divorce and some hard times, but IIRC that was after he and his ragtime music had already become famous.
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Old 01 August 2010, 05:40 AM
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Judecat Judecat is offline
Join Date: 24 January 2004
Location: Baltimore, MD
Posts: 718

He wrote most of his major successful pieces before and during and after his divorce from his first wife. As far as I can remember, he fell on hard times just about the time he started writing and trying to produce his opera. He never made a come back from the hard times, he died from syphlis before that could happen.
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Old 27 August 2010, 03:52 PM
RichardM RichardM is offline
Join Date: 27 March 2004
Location: Las Cruces, NM
Posts: 4,617

It seems like Rollin Rodgers and Scott Joplin had the same teacher, not that Scott Joplin taught Rodgers.

At about age eleven, young Joplin began free piano lessons with Julius Weiss (born Saxony, ca. 1841), who also taught him the basics of sight reading, harmony, and appreciation, particularly of opera. Weiss lodged as family tutor for lumberman Col. R. W. Rodgers, and possibly introduced Scott to the same academic subjects he taught the Rodgers children. Indeed each of the Rodgers family learned a musical instrument, and young Rollin Rodgers became a lifelong opera enthusiast
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Old 27 August 2010, 04:03 PM
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Lainie Lainie is offline
Join Date: 29 August 2005
Location: Suburban Columbus, OH
Posts: 74,530

I'd be very surprised if, at that time and in that place, a little white boy's first music teacher had been a black man.
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