A Guest of Honor (lost score to Scott Joplin opera; 1903)

From The Lost Media Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Newspaper advertisement for A Guest of Honor.

Status: Lost

A Guest of Honor was an opera written by famous ragtime composer Scott Joplin. Written in 1903, this was the first opera he had ever composed.


The opera is believed to be a dramatization of African-American civil rights leader Booker T. Washington's 1901 White House dinner with President Theodore Roosevelt. This historic visit was met with condemnation from Roosevelt's political opponents, and mostly praise from the African-American community.


The score and music for the opera is completely lost, having never been published. Joplin filed a copyright application for the opera with the Library of Congress in 1903, but he did not include a copy of the score with the application. [1] The application also mentions that John Stark, Joplin's publisher at the time, would publish the music, but this never happened.

In the following months, Joplin established a company to tour the opera across several Midwestern states. Early in the tour, a company associate stole the box office receipts, severely damaging their financial situation. The tour was abruptly aborted in Pittsburg, Kansas, when Joplin could not afford the company's payroll and lodging. As a result, all of Joplin's belongings, including the opera score and possibly sheet music for his other unknown compositions, were confiscated until Joplin could pay for the rent.[2] Joplin eventually left Pittsburgh without retrieving his belongings, which were supposedly left inside of a trunk. No copy of the score has ever resurfaced, and it is presumed to have been destroyed after its confiscation.[3]