Highlights from Martin Katz Master Class

Martin Katz Headshot

The “gold standard of accompanists” (New York Times) shares his wisdom with SFCM students.

In May, Martin Katz held a master class for SFCM students.

Dubbed “the gold standard of accompanists” by the New York Times,his 45-year career has taken him to five continents to collaborate with the world’s most celebrated singers in recital and recording. Marilyn Horne, Frederica von Stade, Kathleen Battle, David Daniels, Karita Mattila, and Jose Carreras are among his regular partners, and he has recorded for RCA, CBS, BMG, EMI and Decca labels.

Katz is also active as a conductor and editor. He has led opera productions for San Francisco’s Merola program, the BBC, Tokyo’s NHK, as well as numerous performances in Ann Arbor. His editions of baroque and bel canto operas have been performed in Houston, Ottawa, and at the Metropolitan Opera. At the University of Michigan School of Music for more than three decades, he has chaired the program in collaborative piano and coached vocal repertoire for singers and pianists alike. His students are working all over the world. Now an author too, Mr. Katz’s first opus, “The Complete Collaborator,” has been published by Oxford University Press.

Below are three highlights of Katz’ words of wisdom and you can watch the full master class below.

  • “When two vowels are sharing a note, we always have to decide: is it going to be 99% for the first vowel and 1% for the second, or is it going to be the opposite? I find that if it’s the second, like you did here 1% plus 99, you’re taking too much time to go to the second vowel. It sounds too much like 50/50.”
  • “To be as disciplined a singer as Mozart requires, you could keep a lid on the higher note when you have a jump. Your voice is going to grow in volume when you go up a fourth, so it’s up to you to keep the dynamic the same all the way through the phrase.”
  • “I’m a big believer that the aria has to be the only thing that could follow this recit. In other words, if the recit starts at a 10 in terms of excitement and the aria starts at a 5, you have to take the audience down to a 5 sometime during the recit so by the time the aria starts your audience is ready. I call it taking a trip. Most of Mozart’s orchestrated recits work really well when you think about where you have to get to by the time the aria starts.”

Watch the full master class below or on SFCM’s YouTube channel.