How to Make Martin’s Day

August 4, 2009 Uncategorized 7 Comments

Max Morath in 1960

Max Morath in 1960

Ragtime is a small, small world.  If contemporary music were a factory, ragtime is the dusty desk chair in the closet of the abandoned wing where they used to make lyres and citharas.  It is a subculture of a subculture.  A musical dodo.  But it has its kings, its elder statesmen, its living legends.

And one of those living legends likes my my new CD:


“Tricky Fingers” is simply a stunning piece of work.  Thanks a million for sending me another copy (inscribed.) I have a number of thoughts about it, but assure you I find that the entire album is superb and I wish you the best with its potential sales.

I ‘m especially pleased that on many of your tracks — and I know this sounds like a contradiction — you’re treating Ragtime as MUSIC. I’ve pushed the position for years that the best of Ragtime is simply a body of fine music for the piano, and needs no special little niche, as in “Oh! Can you play Ragtime??” — as if it were not thoroughly related to the best of other brief piano forms. A perfect example is your Heliotrope Bouquet — best rendition I’ve ever heard — including mine. Your careful and logical rubatos, your variations, e.g. the staccato treatment of the B-theme, and subsequent embellishments. And you allow portions of the piece to swing a bit — that is, give it a “dotted” feel.

The same approach makes Blake’s Rhapsody work beautifully — not a slavish note-for-note exploration, but believe me — a delivery that would have made the old man very happy. I’m especially pleased by your Theresa composition — very sensitive, with all that delicate lace in the R.H.

Hey — you have about the fastest fingers of anybody I’ve heard for years.  I think you’ve set a new speed record for the Maple Leaf!. It’ll be like Chopin’s Minute Waltz — trying to match Spitznagel’s 1:45 (!)

This is part of a letter from my hero and one of the musical pillars of my life, Max Morath.  The second ragtime CD I ever purchased was “World of Scott Joplin Vol. 1″ by Max Morath.  He was and is one the most famous purveyors of this music that there has ever been, and if ragtime has a pater familias, it is him.

It’s hard to give a full measure of what him liking my CD means.  He started my musical journey.  He was one of the judges in the contest in which I won the piano.  And now, at the age of 82, he thinks the work of my hands is “simply stunning.”

If I’m anything, Max, it’s because of you.

And THAT is how to make Martin’s day…

7 Comments to “How to Make Martin’s Day”

  1. Bryan Wright
    Congratulations again, Martin! This is certainly well-deserved. Congratulations also on the latest incarnation of your website. Looking spiffy!
  2. JT
    That's great stuff, Spitznagel - a true accomplishment. You even inspired a post on my blog. Stay Super.
  3. Martin
    Thanks, guys!
  4. “Get that ragtime out of my house!” « Martin Spitznagel
    [...] 1970, Max Morath (of Martin’s-Day-Making fame) interviewed Eubie Blake, one of the most talented and enduring musicians of the 20th century. [...]
  5. Steve Stitt
    WOW Max Morath is on your website, he is my godfather! No really not like "the godfather" but my godfather lol
  6. Martin
    You're a lucky guy, Steve. Max is an amazing guy and has had a profound influence on my life, musical and otherwise. Thanks for the comment!
  7. Mr. Morath and Mr. Blake « Martin Spitznagel
    [...] I got the most marvelous e-mail out of the blue from Max Morath, who has the uncanny ability to make my day. [...]

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