Once the Tin-Pan Alley moguls realised its commercial potential, ragtime raced from a local, to a national, to an international craze, with Joplin as its principal proponent. With success came the obsession to be recognised as a serious composer, but his two operas, A Guest of Honour (1903) and Treemonisha (1909) were both unsuccessful. Although Joplin continued to compose some of his best works in his latter years, the popularity of ragtime was waning, to be superseded by its offspring, jazz.
It was the use of two of his most popular rags, The Entertainer and The Easy Winners in the film The Sting, that sparked a revival in Joplin's music, which is continuing to this day.
Scott Joplin's (1868 - 1917) story is a classic example of rags to riches (no pun intended!). He was born of poor parents into a family where music was encouraged and his extraordinary talent fostered from an early age. Family disagreements forced him from home at the age of fourteen, to make a living as a pianist in the murky world of America honky-tonk and red light districts. Here he was exposed to a welter of musical influences: popular music, light classics, folk music old and new, black and white as he travelled around the Mississippi Valley States. This was the region that became the cradle of the 'new' music called ragtime.
Peter was a professional trumpet player all his working life. After study at the Royal College of Music in London he joined the orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where he spent the next eleven years. On leaving the ROH, he played with the Philharmonia Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra, the English Opera Group and the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, whose repertoire included a number of his arrangements. He was always deeply interested in teaching and was a visiting tutor at University of London Goldsmith's College and later a professor at the RCM. In 1980 he returned to the ROH where he stayed until his retirement from professional playing in 1996. He lived in Berwick-upon-Tweed where he continued to arrange music for brass and was Brass Coach to the Scottish Borders Community Orchestra and ran the Borders Brass Ensemble.
Peter Reeve died in September 2006.