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The music of Henry Martin has been described by Paul Griffiths of the New York Times as that of someone who knows and loves jazz to its bones (not discounting its flesh). Griffiths notes that the pieces respond to the long history of jazz by Bach.
Martin is in the forefront of composers dedicated to writing concert works that combine the flavors of jazz and popular music with classical forms. Martin's collection Preludes and Fugues (1990) has been performed by numerous pianists throughout the world. It won the 1992 National Composers Competition and the 1998 Barlow Foundation International Composition Competition. His CDs include Preludes and Fugues (performed by Sara Davis Buechner; GM Recordings 2049), Preludes and Fugues, Part 2 (performed by Henry Martin; Bridge Records 9140), and Chamber Music for Strings and Piano (performed by the Innisfree Piano Trio; Albany Records Troy 804). His books include Charlie Parker and Thematic Improvisation, Counterpoint, and Jazz: the First 100 Years, which is co-authored with Keith Waters. He is also the author of numerous published papers on music theory and jazz.
Martin teaches music theory, composition, and music history at Rutgers University in Newark, where he is a professor of music. Among his teachers are David Del Tredici and Milton Babbitt. He holds a Ph. D. from Princeton University, an M. M. from the University of Michigan, a B. A. from Oberlin College, and a B. M. from Oberlin Conservatory.