77-year-old pianist ignites wild applause

September 17, 1992|By Amy P. Ingram | Amy P. Ingram,Contributing Writer

He's visited the Annapolis Senior Center every Tuesday for seven years and Henry Krantz, 77, still has the power to make those seniors "rock and roll".

Mr. Krantz, a pianist for more than 65 years, happily volunteers his time three to four times a week at six senior centers and nursing homes in Anne Arundel County to play the hippest tunes from the 30s, 40s and 50s. And he's already got groupies.

Iva Pemiston, 87, never misses his Tuesday visit. "I just love the music. It's the best day of the week," she said. "Musicians are more fun than most people."

For more than an hour, Mr. Krantz and accomplices entertain the seniors with wild dancing, boisterous singing and wacky instruments.

Jack Sullivan, 72, can be seen playing the homemade washboard while Eda Sullivan, 72, toots the kazoo.

Mrs. Sullivan has fun with the Henry Krantz gang and is excited about the great response they get.

"They love us," said Mrs. Sullivan, "I get as much out of it as I put in it. And Henry's such a fantastic piano player. I don't think there's anyone to equal him."

Ed Collins, 72, a lifelong bass player and Krantz accomplice, agrees.

"He is very good. I've played with this group and others, and he's the best pianist I've ever played with."

AMr. Krantz started playing the piano at nine. After only one year of formal training, he quit taking lessons and taught himself. Sixty-five years later, he's composed more than 20 musical scores.

Although he did not choose a full-time career in music, much of his time has been devoted to the piano. He was an accompanist for a high school performing group in Miami for two years; he trained his son, a church organist, for three years and taught American music in the Anne Arundel Community College Seniors Program.

Mr. Krantz said he has finally accepted his fateful connection with the world of music: I'll give you one word why I play. Enjoyment. I'll continue to play until I can't play anymore."

Mary DiFiore, director at Annapolis Senior Center, said his dedication to music is outstanding. "I've been here for seven years, and he's never missed a Tuesday. It's incredible; he never takes a vacation."

Ms. DiFiore said the seniors come in faithfully every Tuesday just for the music.

Most of Mr. Krantz's music is jazzy and "fast," as Mrs. Sullivan says, which often ignites clapping and stomping.

A favorite song, however, of most audiences is one of Mr. Krantz's own compositions, "Oh, Happy Am I Since I Met Jesus." He said it's his favorite creation.

"It's our ending song," said Mrs. Sullivan. "And it's very beautiful. After all, it's Henry's."

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