Arthur Marshall

Arthur Marshall
Arthur Marshall. [“Swipesy Cake Walk,” 1900, front cover. SHSMO Sheet Music Collection]

Arthur Marshall

Born: November 20, 1881
Died: August 18, 1968 (age 86)
Missouri Hometowns: Kansas City, Sedalia, St. Louis
Regions of Missouri: Central, Kansas City, St. Louis
Categories: African Americans, Musicians

Arthur Marshall was a ragtime musician who was a friend and writing partner of Scott Joplin. Born on a farm in Saline County, Missouri, on November 20, 1881, Marshall and his family later moved to Sedalia. When Scott Joplin moved to Sedalia, he lived with the Marshall family.

Arthur Marshall learned a great deal about ragtime music from Joplin, and attended grade school and Lincoln High School in Sedalia with another of Joplin’s students, Scott Hayden. After studying music theory at George R. Smith College in Sedalia with Joplin, Marshall majored in education and earned a teaching license.

Joplin, Hayden, and Marshall became extremely close, wrote music together, and honed their piano skills playing in local nightclubs like the Black 400 Club and the Maple Leaf Club. Between 1900 and 1902, Arthur toured the country playing piano and marching with cymbals in parades with McCabe’s Minstrels, leaving after he had saved up a tidy sum of money. After this, Marshall followed Scott Joplin to St. Louis.

While in St. Louis, Marshall played for the crowds at the 1904 World’s Fair and married his first wife, Maude McMannes. He also reunited with Scott Joplin and Scott Hayden at Joplin’s Drama Company. Marshall divorced and left in 1906 for Chicago where he played for various saloons, restaurants, and clubs. A year later, he married his second wife, Julia Jackson, with whom he had two children. In 1909 they went back to Sedalia for a short while before returning to St. Louis the next year. Marshall worked in St. Louis for the next six years until Julia died in 1916. After his second wife’s death, Marshall became ill and developed a twitch in his hand that hampered his ability to play the piano. He physically recovered, remarried, and relocated to Kansas City, Missouri, but stopped playing piano professionally.

Marshall co-wrote two ragtime songs with Joplin: Swipesy Cake Walk (1900) and The Lily Queen. He also produced several songs of his own: KinkletsHam and —The Peach, and The Pippin. He ended his musical career around 1917, but took part in ragtime revivals later in his life. In 1950 Marshall recorded his first ragtime records, including three songs written between 1907 and 1908: Silver Arrow, National Prize Rag, and Missouri Romp. He died in Kansas City, on August 18, 1968.

Text and research by Carlynn Trout and Todd Barnett

References and Resources

For more information about Arthur Marshall’s life and career, see the following resources:

Society Resources

The following is a selected list of books, articles, and manuscripts about Arthur Marshall in the research centers of The State Historical Society of Missouri. The Society’s call numbers follow the citations in brackets.

Articles from the Newspaper Collection

  • “Ragtime Era Revival Set Here Monday.” Sedalia Democrat. October 16, 1960. p. 1, c. 1, p. 2, c. 3. [Reel # 47249]
  • “Swipsey [sic] Cake Walk Result of a Famous Collaboration.” Sedalia Democrat. November 24, 1959. p. 2, c. 5-6. [Reel # 47245]

Books and Articles

  • Blesh, Rudi. Classic Piano Rags: Complete Original Music for 81 Rags. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1973. pp. 205-224. [REF 781.52 B617]
  • Blesh, Rudi and Harriet Janis. They All Played Ragtime: The True Story of an American Music. New York: Oak Publications, 1971. [REF F565.3 B617 1971]
  • Curtis, Susan. “Scott Joplin and Sedalia: The King of Ragtime in the Queen City of Missouri.” Gateway Heritage. v. 14, no. 4 (Spring 1994), pp. 4-19. [REF F550 M69gh 1971]
  • Jasen, David A., and Trebor Jay Tichenor. Rags and Ragtime: A Musical History. New York: Seabury Press, 1978. pp. 6, 33, 78, 104-110. [REF 781.572 J453]
  • Schafer, William J., and Johannes Riedel. The Art of Ragtime: Form and Meaning of an Original Black American Art. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1973. pp. 47-52, 96, 130, 217. [REF 781.572 Sch14]
  • Southern, Eileen. The Music of Black Americans. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1971. pp. 318-323. [REF 780 So88]
  • Waldo, Terry. This is Ragtime. New York: Hawthorn Books, Inc., 1976. pp. 54, 125, 152, 162-167, 204-205. [REF 781.572 W147]

Outside Resources

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