Martin Spitznagel has been hailed as a remarkable, astonishing, and “face‐melting” musical talent. His virtuosic technique, sophisticated touch, and sparkling repertoire have left audiences across the country enthralled with America’s first popular music, Ragtime.
Whether performing the masterworks of Scott Joplin or the score to "Star Wars", Martin is truly at home on the piano bench. Beginning his piano studies at the age of 12, he found success early, winning a Yamaha Disklavier at the age of 14 in Calliope Media’s nationwide Crazy for Ragtime competition. His entry, chosen from the hundreds of submissions by a panel of judges that included world‐renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman, coincided with the centennial of the birth of ragtime music in 1897.
Despite this early success, Martin was largely self‐guided until 1998, when he met Eastman School of Music pianist and pedagogue Dr. Tony Caramia, who challenged him to “find the surprise” in every performance. Under Caramia’s tutelage, Martin flourished, developing a keen ear for melody, a gift for improvisation, and a talent for composition.
In the years since, Martin has performed across the country at venues large and small. He has been a featured performer at the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival in Sedalia, MO, the Alexandria Bay Ragtime‐Jasstime Festival in Alexandria Bay, NY, the San Antonio Ragtime Festival in San Antonio, TX, the Indiana Ragtime Festival in Indianapolis, IN, and the West Coast Ragtime Festival in Sacramento, CA.
Awards for composition include "Best New Rag" in the 2007 and 2011 at the World Old‐Time Piano Playing Contest, first place in the 2010 Scott Joplin Foundation’s worldwide “Train Town Rag” composition contest, as well as a Bronze International Galaxy Award and a Platinum MarCom Award for "Best Original Score" for PerformTech Inc.'s holiday e-card.
Martin is also the 2011 World Old-Time PIano Playing Champion.
In addition to his musical pursuits, Martin holds a B.A. in Creative Writing, a Certificate in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, and an A.S. in Filmmaking. This diverse skill set has enabled him to work on everything from a documentary film about polio with "St. Elmo’s Fire" screenwriter Carl Kurlander to composing award‐winning orchestral scores for short films and animations.
Martin currently works as an instructional designer, writer, and filmmaker in Alexandria, VA, where he lives with his wife, Jessica.
He is thrilled to be the Scott Joplin Foundation’s Artist in Residence for 2011, and looks forward to the opportunity to reach new audiences with the music that has given him so much joy.