Today’s Smile for the Day Monday, November 16, 2020

On this Day: Scott Joplin’s A Guest of Honor

President Theodore Roosevelt invited his adviser, the African American spokesman Booker T. Washington, to dine with him and his family. The response from the southern press and politicians was immediate, sustained and vicious. The Northern presses were more generous, acknowledging Washington’s accomplishments and suggesting that the dinner was an attempt by Roosevelt to emphasize he was everybody’s president (per Wikipedia).

First, a Story:

What kind of music do mummies like to listen to? Wrap

Second, a Song:

A Guest of Honor was the first opera created by Scott Joplin. The focus of the production was the 1901 White House dinner hosted by President Theodore Roosevelt for the civil rights leader and educator Booker T. Washington. 

Joplin is believed to have begun writing A Guest of Honor shortly after Washington’s visit to Roosevelt’s White House. A copyright application was filed in 1903 with the Library of Congress, but Joplin did not include a copy of the score with the application. It is theorized that he intended to have the score published prior to the copyright submission, but this never happened.

Joplin created an opera company of 30 people and produced A Guest of Honor for a national tour. It is not certain how many productions were actually staged, or even if this was an all-black show or a racially mixed presentation (which would have been very unusual for 1903).

During the tour, either in Springfield, Illinois, or Pittsburg, Kansas, someone associated with the company stole the box office receipts. Joplin could not meet the company’s payroll or pay for the company’s lodgings at a theatrical boarding house. It is believed the score for A Guest of Honor was confiscated with Joplin’s belongings, due to non-payment of his bills.

To date, no copy of the score to A Guest of Honor has ever surfaced, and it is considered lost. (Wikipedia)

Since the score is lost, I have a scene from the Scott Joplin movie featuring duelling pianos. Its script won an award from the Writers Guild of America in 1979. I have always loved ragtime and long admired the talent of the greatest composer of ragtime music.  I hope you enjoy this:


Thought for the Day:

“Ragtime was my lullaby” – Hoagy Carmichael


Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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