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Max Morath

Born on October 1, 1926, in Colorado Springs, Max Morath emerged as a pianist, composer, and entertainer, leaving an indelible mark on the world of ragtime music. His life's journey is a captivating tale that weaves through the golden era of ragtime, jazz, and the American musical landscape.

Morath's musical journey began in the heart of Colorado, where the young prodigy displayed an early affinity for the piano. His fascination with the keys and an innate musical talent paved the way for a lifetime dedicated to the art of sound. As he honed his skills, it became clear that Morath possessed a unique ability to capture the essence of ragtime—a genre that would become synonymous with his name.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Morath emerged as a torchbearer for ragtime, a genre often relegated to the shadows of history. His passion for the music of Scott Joplin and other ragtime legends fueled a personal mission to revive and preserve this American musical heritage. With a combination of skillful piano playing and charismatic storytelling, Morath brought ragtime back into the limelight, captivating audiences with the syncopated rhythms and nostalgic melodies of a bygone era.

Morath's creativity extended beyond interpretation, as he ventured into the realm of composition. In 1966, he gifted the world with "Golden Hours," a ragtime classic that paid homage to John Stark, the publisher instrumental in bringing Scott Joplin's work to the public. Morath's compositions showcased his ability to innovate while honoring the legacy of ragtime.

Morath's talents transcended the piano keys. He graced the stages of Broadway, captivating audiences with his one-man shows that combined music, humor, and historical anecdotes. His television appearances further solidified his reputation, making him a household name in the world of entertainment. Morath's ability to bridge the gap between the past and present, infusing contemporary audiences with an appreciation for ragtime, was a testament to his enduring impact.

Beyond his performances, Max Morath embraced the role of an educator and historian, sharing his knowledge and passion with future generations. His commitment to preserving the legacy of ragtime extended beyond the stage, leaving an imprint on the curriculum of music education programs and ensuring that the genre continued to thrive in the hands of new talents.

Max Morath's journey through the realms of ragtime, composition, performance, and education is a testament to the power of music to transcend time. His legacy lives on in the hearts of those who appreciate the intricate beauty of ragtime, a genre reinvigorated by his skill, dedication, and love for the golden age of American music. As the keys of his piano echoed through the ages, Max Morath's impact on the world of music remains a harmonious ode to the enduring spirit of ragtime.

Morath passed away in Duluth, Minnesota, on June 19th, 2023 at the age of 96.

Selected Performances

Golden Hours (1966) - Before the ragtime revival of the early 70s, Max Morath took pen to paper in 1966 to craft a timeless composition that pays elegant tribute to one of the unsung heroes of the genre—John Stark. As the publisher of Scott Joplin’s music, Stark played a pivotal role in bringing the genius of ragtime to the masses, and Morath's "Golden Hours" stands as a testament to the enduring influence of this era.

Morath's ingenuity shines as he introduces polyrhythms into the fabric of "Golden Hours." The composition dances between an irregular 3/8 time signature and a 2/4 time signature, creating a tapestry of sound that pays homage to the complexity and depth of ragtime. This bold exploration of rhythm adds a layer of richness, inviting listeners into a rhythmic landscape.

For those acquainted with this composition, I have deviated a bit from the written score. In a nod to the great Tony Caramia, a renowned jazz and classical pianist, I chose to reprise the first strain in the altered key of D major, ending the piece with a quiet elegance.

Locating the Music

Morath's complete ragtime compositions for piano are available at Amazon.

List of Solo Piano Compositions

  • The Anchoria Leland

  • Doctor Jackpot

  • Echoes Of The Cakewalk

  • Echoes Of The Rosebud (Ragtime Variations)

  • Gold Bar Rag

  • Golden Hours

  • Imperial Rag

  • The New Black Eagle Buck

  • Old Mortality (Slow Drag)

  • One For Amelia

  • One For Norma

  • One For The Road

  • Polyragmic

  • Poverty Gulch

  • Three For Diane

  • Tribute To Joplin

  • The Vindicator Rag


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