Max Morath
Duluth, Minnesota
Updated 9/6/2016

Max Morath occupies a unique space as a spokesman for American music and popular culture. He played a key role in the revival of ragtime in the 1970’s with his Off-Broadway show Turn of the Century (1969.) Other productions followed until he retired from performing in 2007, having logged over 5000 engagements in the USA and Canada. He remains active today as a writer and consultant.

A graduate of Colorado College (B.A. English 1948), he alternated employment in radio and television with seasonal jobs as pianist and musical director for melodrama and stock companies in Colorado and Arizona, leading to a growing fascination with ragtime and American popular music. Graduate studies at the Stanford-NBC Radio & Television Institute sharpened his media skills, and in the early 1960s, for Public Television, he wrote and performed two nationally-distributed series — The Ragtime Era and Turn of the Century — half-hour shows which explored American popular culture through our music and theatre.

Max holds a Master’s Degree in American Studies from Columbia University (1996). His graduate thesis explored the life of American songwriter Carrie Jacobs-Bond, inspiring his novel, based on her life, I Love You Truly (iUniverse, 2008). National Public Radio (NPR) commissioned him to research and write their Curious Listener’s Guide to Popular Standards (Putnam/Perigee 2002), and he is represented in The Oxford Companion to Jazz (Oxford, 2000) with the essay Ragtime Then and Now. Max and his wife, the photographer Diane Fay Skomars, collaborated on The Road to Ragtime (Donning 1999). Among his current projects is the co-authorship with Moss Hall of a screenplay devoted to the life and times of the pianist John William “Blind” Boone. With the Edw. B. Marks Music Company of New York, he is the editor of New Ragtime Current, a print collection of contemporary rags — many of which were first introduced in Sacramento at last year’s “New Composers” festival concert.

Diane and Max live in Duluth, Minnesota, where Diane retired recently as an Administrator at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD).