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)." Martin is in the forefront of composers dedicated to writing attractive works that combine the flavors of jazz and popular music with classical forms. Martin's Preludes and Fugues, which won the 1991 National Composers Competition and the 1998 Barlow International Composition Competition, "respond," according to the New York Times, "to the long history of jazzing Bach by Baching jazz." The Washington Post critic Joseph McLellan cites the works "wholehearted tribute to Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, but . . . with traces of bebop, tango, stride piano, etc., popping up unexpectedly." John Sunier in Audio magazine states "I can't think of a more impressive recent contemporary keyboard work."
In addition to Preludes and Fugues, other highly successful works by Martin include Shadows of the Moon (for violin and orchestra), which was premiered by violinist Carole Cowan with JoAnn Falletta conducting the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, Inventiones, which are in the spirit of J. S. Bach's Two-Part Inventions, and Pippa's Song, commissioned by the Focus 2000 Festival of Piano Literature at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.
On the occasion of winning the 1998 Barlow International Composition Competition, the Barlow Endowment commissioned At Midnight's Hour for piano solo. The San Antonio International Piano Competition 2000 commissioned Praeludium XXIV and Fuga XXIV for the competition's semi-finalists. The work was premiered by bronze medal winner Gloria Chien.
Martin teaches music theory, composition, and music history at Rutgers University in Newark, where he is associate professor of music. He is also a pianist and music theorist with a long list of performances, articles, and books.