The Katy Depot

Sedalia's Welcome Center and Year-Round Destination

Nelle Stark

Daughter of John Stark, she was a major influence in his decision to publish many of Scott Joplin’s early compositions.

Ragtime, (1896 – 1920) that foot tapping rhythmic impulse, rattling good fun and inherent irrestible charm is considered the first original American music.  In 1899 Joplin contracted with Sedalia music store owner and publisher John Stark (after strong influence of his daughter Nellie) to publish The Maple Leaf Rag, which was to become the greatest and most famous of piano rags.  Thus establishing Sedalia as the Cradle of Ragtime.  The contract specified that Joplin would receive a one-cent royalty on each sale, a condition that rendered Joplin a small, but steady income for the rest of his life.

Scott Joplin is recognized as one of the most influential figures in the formation of American 20th century music as well as the King of Ragtime.  In his 48 years, Scott Joplin composed 34 rags, two operas, and 22 other songs, marches, waltzes and other pieces.  His Maple Leaf Rag was the first piece of popular music to sell a million copies and has continued to exercise its magic on successive generations of musicians and music lovers.

Scott Joplin was the most sophisticated and tasteful ragtime composer of the era.  But he aspired to more. His goal was to be a successful composer for the lyric stage and he continually worked toward this end.  

As a person, he was intelligent, well-mannered and well-spoken.  He was extremely quiet, serious and modest.  He had few interests other than music.  He was generous with his time and was willing to assist and instruct younger musicians.  He had a profound belief in the importance of education.