A Brief History of the
William Appling - Scott Joplin Project
During the last decade of his life, renowned conductor, educator, and pianist William Appling immersed himself in the music of Scott Joplin. Appling “discovered” Joplin almost by accident. Finding a volume of Joplin’s piano music in the late 1990s, Appling read through it and began to realize that Joplin was, in fact, a true genius whose music had never received the recognition or respect it deserved. Appling gradually conceived of a large-scale project, Celebrating Scott Joplin, which would include a recording of Joplin’s complete works for piano, a recording of his songs, and a fully-staged performance of his opera Treemonisha.
Because of his declining health, Appling was ultimately able to accomplish only the first part of his dream: over a two year period from 2006-2007, he recorded all of Joplin's piano compositions for solo piano, (with the exception of those that were co-written with other composers) a total of 46 works. Seven of the Joplin recordings were released on an Albany Records CD in 2010, William Appling Plays Scott Joplin and J.S. Bach, which also included two major keyboard works by Bach, the Partita No. 1 in B-flat, and the Italian Concerto.
At the time of his death in 2008, William Appling had recorded the remaining 39 pieces, but none to his total satisfaction. With failing health and knowing that extensive editing of the hundreds of takes would be required, Appling was prompted to secure commitments from George Faddoul and William McClelland to finish the recordings.
Understanding the importance of this project both to William Appling and to the music of Scott Joplin, the Board of William Appling Singers & Orchestra committed itself to making sure that the remaining 39 Joplin recordings would be edited and published. Soon after their 2009 event in his memory at Riverside Church, Celebrating William Appling, the WASO Board announced the William Appling - Scott Joplin Project to raise the necessary funds to pay for the editing, production, and eventual release of the Joplin recordings.
The editing and mastering of all 46 recordings is finished. Using a sophisticated music software program, George and William have been able to take the various versions of each piece and create a single and nearly flawless performance. For some recordings, which were in a fairly rough state, this has required many hours of work, although we feel the finished products are very close to Appling’s conception.