The piano rag is musical form unlike any other. Although melodious, ragtime's excitement and appeal derives from its syncopated rhythms. Ragtime music achieved notoriety through its greatest composer, Scott Joplin (1868-1917). At an early age he studied with an old German musician who introduced him to the piano and music theory. While still in his early teens he earned his way playing piano in the honky-tonks of villages and towns in the Mississippi Valley.