was born on April 3, 1981, in Paris, France. He started to play piano at the age of 5, and
organ at age 12. Here is Benjamin's biographical sketch in his own words:
My passion for ragtime music is recent although I have listened to it since a very early age because my father often listened to the famous movie soundtrack of "The Sting", featuring Scott Joplin's music.
At age 5, despite my deafness, I started to attend music courses, initially with a young and passionate jazz piano player and next at the conservatory.
At that time, I wasn't interested in ragtime or even jazz. My music education is traditional, and my idols were (and still are) Johann-Sebastian Bach and Antonio Vivaldi. During my musical education, I became successively interested in other great composers, especially during my harmony courses for their original harmonic progressions: Richard Wagner, Léo Delibes, César Franck, Max Reger, Johann Jakob Froberger, and Rudolf Friml.
When an organist visited my primary school to speak about his passion and profession, he invited us to hear him play at his own Great Organ at the Jacques Decour lyceum chapel. Since then I've been interested in the "pope of the instruments", as Franz Liszt called the great organ. After completing organ courses (with improvisation, graduated in organ at age 18 composition, and accompaniment-related subjects), I graduated in organ at 18.
After being titularized (made a church's head organist) at age 16 at the Saint-Jean Bosco church in Paris, France, I discontinued my professional organ activities in 1999. Now, although I play organ only for fun from time to time (when I'm not busy with other music activities), I'm always delighted to hear my organ colleagues when they play for recitals or concerts.
My radical change from organ to ragtime piano occurred in 1999 after carefully listening to Scott Joplin's wonderful "Solace - A Mexican Serenade" on a Biograph LP recording of Hal Boulware's mechanically cut piano rolls. Although I was previously familiar with this piece, I credit this recording with turning my attention to ragtime.
Since then, I have been searching for ragtime information, books, and documents. I knew that ragtime was not limited to Joplin's output, so I quickly found a variety of ragtime scores, my first being the Dover reprints, including the Vera Brodsky's "Scott Joplin's Complete Piano Works".
Internet is a bonanza for all who are interested in ragtime, and it has enabled me to perform at my very first Ragtime piano concerts here in France. Thanks to my site, I've established contacts with other ragtime musicians (Americans, mostly), among them the famous Jelly Roll Morton specialist, the excellent jazz pianist Butch Thompson.
I'm young, so I have had not the opportunity to meet the great American jazz giants. However, France is known as another Jazz country (maybe the very first after the U.S.A.) and many jazz greats have lived and/or played here. So I've been lucky to meet some real French jazz fans, as well as some Americans, who were friends (or at least met briefly) with the greatest jazz artists of all times: Duke Ellington, Willie "The Lion" Smith, Eubie Blake, Fats Waller, Jelly Roll Morton, Pete Johnson. My boogie friend personally knows the only French pupil of Pete Johnson, and he owns original letters and pictures of his idol; he was also acquainted with the stride giant Joe Turner!
Among my other music passions, I particularly love the Cistercian chant, Classical music, traditional jazz (stride, boogie woogie, blues, Fats Waller, Teddy Wilson), funk music (e.g. Bobby Timmons), the other classical music mistakenly known as "light salon music" and famous piano roll recordings both in the popular music (ragtime, Broadway, Gershwin, pop songs of the roaring twenties) and Classical with the wonderful recordings of my favorite pianists: Léopold Godowsky, Josef Lhevinne, Ignaz Jan Paderewsky, Arthur Rubenstein, Sergei Rachmanonov, Serge Prokofiev, Ignaz Friedman, Harold Bauer, Ethel Leginska, Teresa Carreno, Guiomar Novaes, Vladimir de Pachmann, Camille Saint-Saens, Maurice Ravel and my classical piano idol Josef Hofmann.
More rags by Benjamin Intartaglia can be downloaded from his French ragtime page.