John Scopell

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John Scopell is a famous Freedemian ragtime pianist, musician, and composer who lived in the 1900s and whose music was very popular in the 1920's and 1930's. Some of his most famous works include The Performance, The Easy Losers, and the Turtlefruit Rag. His music is uniquely still very popular in Freedemia, even today.

John Scopell showing his younger sister Roberta a new song. This may have actually been shortly after writing his first rag, the Key Picking Rag.

Life and History

Born as Jonathan Montgomery Scopell-Watts to a small poorer family living in Quentinsburgh in 1881, Scoplin was one of many siblings. However, the thing that pulled him apart was his interest in the piano. While his youngest brother, Harrison Scopell, would grow up to be a baseball star for the early Quentinsburgh Quails and his younger sister, Jasmine Diane Scopell, would grow up to be a famous Freedemian inventor, Scoplin was always drawn to music, especially classical and polka. He had been quoted asking his mom, "what would happen if classical music and polka music were combined?" to which his mother responded with extreme skepticism. Years later, he finally managed to bring that style of music to life, taking aspects of classical music, polka, and a tint of jazz. At age 19, his first rag, Key Picking Rag, was a huge success, although it took a little while for the style of music to really take off. He spent the next few years writing songs, although few other than the Turtlefruit Rag really became popular in those early years.

People really started to recognize Scoplin's ability when he released a record with The Performer and The Easy Losers on it in 1906. The record, called Rags for Roberta, a tribute to his little sister, Roberta Francis Scopell, who had fallen into a coma at the time after a tragic accident, would end up being what most would know Scopell for initially. Roberta had reportedly been Scoplin's biggest fan, and loved the music, and Scopell, not knowing whether she would live through everything, named the record for her. She would come out of that coma in a year's time, to discover that Rags for Roberta had become some of the most popular music in Freedemia and made John Scopell a household name.

Scopell's patriotic Tulip Petal March was even considered as an alternative to Freedemia's national anthem, and is still played at parades, patriotic events, and sporting games as Freedemia's unofficial second anthem.

In 1909, Scopell married Harriet Carrenson, a 27-year-old up and coming saxophone player now famous for her big-band renditions of Scopell's rags. The Scopells had one daughter, Diane Scopell, in 1913.

Death

Scopell would go on to write a large number of ragtime hits, though many would not be discovered until after his death on old piano rolls and rare recordings at the Scopell House in Historic Downtown Quentinsburgh. Scopell would live to be 39, when he died from Freedemian influenza in 1920.

Jazz Renditions

Scopell's wife, Harriet Carrenson-Scopell, would live to be 75, dying in 1957 from natural causes. Her famous jazz band, the Rag Tag Players, would keep Scopell's music alive for another half a century, bringing a new jazzier feel to his original songs. Her renditions tended to include saxophones, trumpets, clarinets, and a jazzier version of the original piano score. Her travels to the Federal States helped revive his music for a new Effesian audience as well.

Museum

The Scopell family house, located in downtown Quentinsburgh, was turned into a museum in 1950. The museum, originally donated and started by Harriet Carrenson-Scopell, originally acted as a memorial and museum for John Scopell only, but upon Harriet's death the Ragtime Swing and Jazz Society of Freedemia dedicated the museum to both John and Harriet Scoplin and their legacy of ragtime and jazz music.

List of Works by John Scopell

  • Key Picking Rag
  • The Performance
  • The Easy Losers
  • Turtlefruit Rag
  • The Waterfalls
  • Lilac Rag
  • Union Street Rag
  • Quentins Rag
  • Franklins Rag
  • Henshaw Rag
  • Wellsylvania Rag
  • Ragtime Time Rag
  • The Lily Frog
  • Golden Goose
  • Streetcar Rag
  • Ballgame Rag
  • Elizabeth
  • Diane
  • Pine Needle Rag
  • Tulip Petal March
  • Roberta
  • Magnolia Slow Drag
  • Blossom Rag
  • New Life Rag
  • Harriet
  • Jazztime Rag (cowritten with his wife Harriet)