February 11, 1961 - April 19, 1961
A 12-part series produced for the National Educational Television & Radio Center by KRMA-TV, Denver Colorado.
The Ragtime Era with host Max Morath, who at the age of 32 is the ideal spokesman. He holds forth at an elegant pianoforte, singing and playing in a lively, authentic style. He' a close student of the period when America's popular music developed, and he sparks the narrative segments with anecdote and erudition that is as bright as the music.
Mr. Morath’s subject for this program is the blues: their origin, their musical form, and the new rhythms involved. Combining musical analysis with some excellent performances by Ernie Douglas singing the blues, Mr. Morath presents a program of musical theory, history, and song. He talks about one of the fathers of the blues, WC Handy, and about the spread of the blues from Memphis to London, England. He gives a picture of music whose importance and popularity still continue, half a century later.
Episodes in this series cover American pop music from the 1890's to 1920. Included are broadcasts focusing on the Blues, Ragtime, Musical Comedy, Tin Pan Alley, the Mauve Decade, Those Singin' Songs, Movie Music, the Song Pluggers, Tempos of the Time, and the songs made popular during World War 1.
From radio to television to national fame as a performer, Max Morath became the recognized purveyor of music and popular culture of the ragtime era. That is the way most people remember Max Morath as “Mr. Ragtime.”
In 1959, his epic 12-episode TV series The Ragtime Era, was the first modern educational documentary at KRMA-TV in Denver that both entertained and informed. It ushered in a field now produced by modern documentarians like Ken Burns at Florentine Films. Max wrote, hosted, and performed each 30-minute episode live in one-take and followed that series with other TV projects.
He pioneered educational television with his producer Moss Hall and this series helped move the transition from National Educational Television (NET) to the Public Broadcasting System (PBS).
Archival Television Audio, Inc. has preserved in its archive ten of the twelve part series. Missing is the sixth broadcast in the series,"The Yankee Doodle Boy," and the ninth broadcast in the series, "Emancipation of Women: New Music of the 20's"
With “The Ragtime Era” National Educational Television brings viewers one of the most delightful, and at the same time informative series ever produced. But “The Ragtime Era” is more than a recreation of the music from 1890 to 1920. It is also a careful study of American social history between 1890 and 1920, a period which saw the beginning of the labor movement, modern technical achievements, feminism, the growing importance of Negroes and immigrants. It was a period of activity, unrest, gaiety and real distress. And, finally, “The Ragtime Era” provides the audience with some sound and at the same time uncomplicated, musical theory and analysis. To do all of this KRMA-TV, the Denver affiliate of NET, has drawn on the services of singer-pianist-musician Max Morath, who combines with his performances of ragtime classics a presentation of the pictures, stage sets, and other paraphernalia of “The Ragtime Era.”
Episode #1: The Mauve Decade
Episode #2: Any Rags Today
Episode #3: Lonesome Road
Episode #4: Those Real Singin’ Songs
Episode #5: More Music than Comedy
Episode #6: The Yankee Doodle Boy
Episode #7: Tin Pan Alley
Episode #8: Tin Pan Alley Also Ran
Episode #9: June, Moon, and Spoon
Episode #10: The Tempos of Our Time
Episode #11: Feet First
Episode #12: The Great War