Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
I'm Doug Johnson. This week:
We tell about a special exhibit of Amish
quilts in Washington D.C.,
answer a listener question from Russia about musician Scott Joplin.
Amish Quilt Exhibit
The Textile Museum in Washington, D.C., recently opened
a show of handmade cloth bed coverings
called quilts. The exhibit is called "Constructed Color: Amish Quilts." It includes thirty colorful quilts made by
different groups of Amish people in the United States. Visitors can enjoy the
striking artistry of these quilts as well as the extraordinary skill of the
women who made them. Barbara Klein tells us more.
you enter the exhibit, the many quilts hanging on the wall almost look like
paintings by modern artists. The designs are very bold and geometric with large
single color areas. But many of the quilt designs are traditional, dating back
to the middle of the eighteenth century.
is when Amish groups began coming to the United States to escape religious
oppression in Europe. The first Amish settlement in America was in Lancaster
County in the eastern state of Pennsylvania. The Amish also settled in other areas of North America. Amish communities are known for their strong
Christian beliefs. As part of these beliefs, many Amish people reject modern
technologies such as cars and electricity in order to live simpler lives, often
based on farming.
thirty quilts in this exhibit represent works from three different Amish
communities: Lancaster County and
Mifflin County in Pennsylvania and the Midwestern states of Ohio and Indiana.
settlement is known for a special style of quilt. For example, Amish quilts
from Lancaster County are often made up of larger pieces of cloth in very
bright colors. The exhibit has several examples of the "Center Diamond" pattern
quilt. One "Center Diamond" quilt has a
deep blue diamond with a green border inside a red square on a purple
background. The colors are so intense it is hard to believe this quilt is about
eighty years old.
quilts from Midwestern states often have blue or black backgrounds with
repeated designs. An example in the exhibit is the "Tumbling Blocks" quilt made
of gray, red and black pieces of cloth. The pattern is so three-dimensional it
almost seems to come off the wall.
These works are beautiful representations of Amish
history and community. They show both the great technical skill of Amish women
quilters and their ability to create traditional patterns in new and inventive
Our listener question this week comes from Russia.
Victor wants to know about musician and composer Scott Joplin. Our listener
notes that the Special English program WORDS AND THEIR STORIES begins with
Joplin's "Bethena: A Concert Waltz."
Joplin is famous for writing energetic dance music that earned him the title
"King of Ragtime." The irregular rhythm of this music was described as "ragged
time," a term that was later shortened to "ragtime." During Joplin's lifetime
ragtime was often played in clubs and drinking places. He helped turn this
special kind of music into an American art form.
Joplin's music may be very well known, but much about his life remains a
Experts believe he was born in
eighteen sixty-seven or eighteen sixty-eight. He was born in the state of Texas, probably near the border with
Arkansas. He spent part of his childhood in the town of Texarkana.
Joplin's father was a freed slave who worked for the railroad. His mother
cleaned people's homes. She received permission for young Scott to play the
piano in one of those homes. A German-born music teacher named Julius Weiss
recognized the young boy's skill and gave him free music lessons. Scott's early
training was in classical music.
believe Scott Joplin left home in the eighteen eighties to travel through the Midwestern United States. In his twenties, he moved to Sedalia, Missouri.
There, he played with different bands. They included a dance band called the Queen City Cornet
Band and a singing group called the Texas Medley Quartette. When he was not
traveling to perform, Joplin worked as a piano player in social clubs and took
eighteen ninety-nine, Scott Joplin published this song, "The Maple Leaf Rag."
It soon became one of the most popular examples of ragtime music. Joplin earned
money from sales of this song for the rest of his life.
nineteen-oh-one, Joplin moved to Saint Louis, Missouri, with his wife, Belle.
Here is "A Breeze from Alabama," published the next year. It is music for a
dance called the two-step.
the next fifteen years, Scott Joplin kept writing ragtime music as well as two
operas, a symphony, a musical and other works. However, many of these were
never published and have been lost.
is "The Chrysanthemum," which Joplin wrote for the woman who would become his
second wife, Freddie.
Joplin died in nineteen seventeen. He left the world sixty musical pieces.
In nineteen seventy-six, the composer received a
Pulitzer Prize in recognition of his important role in American music. We leave
you with one of Scott Joplin's later compositions, "Magnetic Rag."
I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.
It was written and produced by Dana Demange. For transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our
programs, go to voaspecialenglish.com.
your questions about American life to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your full name and where you
us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special