Discussion:
Johnson Rag
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jtougas
2007-11-29 01:20:27 UTC
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Hi folks -

Are there any good resources (on or off line) for researching ragtime
composers? I'm trying to find information on the Johnson Rag,
originally composed in 1917 by Guy Hall and Henry Kleinkauf.

Cheers -
jtougas
--
jtougas

"listen- there's a hell of a good universe next door
let's go" - e.e. cummings
Bill Edwards
2007-11-30 00:45:25 UTC
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Greetings.

I have been spending much of the last two years doing such research,
but more on the prolific composers of the era and the rag-centric ones
with small outputs but little information researched to date. It has
been a fun trip as I have uncovered not only some cool information
concerning these people but in deep library searches and other
resources, found pieces of theirs not listed in general lists.

The cumulative result is in my composers section in my Resources, and
one starting place is http://ragpiano.com/ragtime4.shtml

Note that this is an effort made possible by other researchers who
send me info as well, and in certain cases they are explicitly listed
at the bottom of each composer bio, as are some of the books if they
are a prescient source. Others have had very little or nothing written
on them, or little research done, so I have pulled together what I
could locate into their story.

As for resources, I use a number of them. Among them are the standard
texts by Berlin, Jasen, Tichenor, Jones, etc., plus some on the music
business of the early 20th century, and some on black composers.
Others are subscription sources like jstor, ancestry, and selected
others I pay for. The last, but often first, are the many online
archives like Levy, UCB, MSU, Indiana U, UCLA, NYPL, etc. They are
listed in my links at http://ragpiano.com/links.shtml starting around
the middle.

One useful source for tunes and copyrights, although not too much for
ragtime, is Lissauer's three volume encyclopedia of popular song that
covers roughly 1888 to 2000. I have worn mine down.

Sometimes it is also intuition, or doing what one can with a lack of
evidence on one or another point, which can actually provide, given
occums razor, information and healthy speculation (which should be
couched as such) as well.

Healthy and focused google searches are also useful, as long as you
remember to put the name in quotes to cut down on results, and perhaps
a keyword, like:

"johnson rag" "guy hall"

which will keep results infinitely much smaller than:

johnson rag guy hall

(872 vs. 409,000)

In fact, a search on:

"henry kleinkauf" -"guy hall"

turned up less than 100 sites, most of them useless, since their names
are closely associated and trying to keep Hall's name out got the
expected results.

Know that there is also a LOT of inaccurate information (I do all I
can to avoid putting it out but it happens on occasion). For example,
a number of sites say Johnson Rag was written in 1945, which is a
poorly researched falsehood since it clearly appears first in 1917.

In this instance, even general google searches were not of much use,
since it seems little has been written on these composers. To call
them "ragtime composers" is perhaps generous, since their ragtime
output was eclipsed (as far as I can find) by Clarence Woods and
Clarence H. St. John, who didn't do much. In fact, Lissauers lists
ONLY Johnson Rag for Hall and Kleinkauf (sometimes misspelled as
Kleinhauf so searches have to be done under both), so they didn't do
much in popular song as well. It may have been the only piece for both
of them that made the radar. I can't state that as a fact without a
lot more searching, but the 12 archives I checked plus googles taking
out Johnson Rag turned up NOTHING, so this is likely.

I'm not sure where to start other than draft cards, since I have to
conjecture on birth dates, can't even guess location, etc.

Here is what I could find:
Henry Kleinkauf, 5/28/1886
Born of German Parents John and Rosie Kleinkauf in Pennsylvania
Older brother Robert, younger brother Peter
1900 - hard to find without deep searching
1910 in Wilkes Barre, PA, no occupation.
1917 in Wilkes Barre Listed as musician/composer. The rest is blurry.
1920 in Wilkes Barre, listed as teacher still living with mother and
brother Peter
1930 in Kingston, PA, musician/teacher, wife Edna, daughter Jane
1942 in Wilkes Barre, Luzerne PA. Height oddly listed as 4'5" (should
be 5'4" or 5'5"?) - perhaps a dwarf? Weight 140. Self employed
It is evident that he considered himself a composer for only a very
short period, so I'm not sure what there was beyond Johnson Rag.

Given those demographics I tried for a Guy Hall:
There are a BUNCH of them. Hundreds.
But I still scored fairly quickly.
Guy Henry Hall, 12/13/1891 or 1892 (draft cards do not agree)
Born to Isabella Hall in Scranton, just across the valley from Wilkes
Barre, Pennsylvania (mother was only 18).
1900 - hard to find
1910 - same
1917 in Wilkes Barre. Single and supporting mother. No profession
shown.
1920 - living in Wilkes Barre with widowed mother. Orchestra leader.
1930 - living in Wilkes Barre alone as a roomer. Musician with an
orchestra.
1942 in Wilkes Barre. Wife, Mary Claire. 5'6", blue eyes, brown hair,
light complexion. Employed by Reuben Donnelly in Philadelphia - not
too close.

So in essence, they weren't close enough to Vandersloot in
Williamsport to take much advantage of them, and don't show up on
radar elsewhere (please, everybody, correct me if you can find more as
I only spent an hour doing this).

End assessment - until further info is available, they were local
musicians who had one hit which finally scored for them more than two
decades after it was written.

Hope that helps. Since they don't fit the demographics of the
composers I have been researching, I will have to stop here and go
back to my research.

SYNCerely, Bill E.
jtougas
2007-11-30 02:28:39 UTC
Permalink
On Thu, 29 Nov 2007 16:45:25 -0800 (PST), Bill Edwards
Post by Bill Edwards
Hope that helps. Since they don't fit the demographics of the
composers I have been researching, I will have to stop here and go
back to my research.
*carefully picks jaw up off the floor and reinsters into proper place*

Wow, that's considerably more info than I was able to find at all,
even in the family records ( Henry Kleinkauf was my
great-great-uncle).

Thank you very much -
--
jtougas

"listen- there's a hell of a good universe next door
let's go" - e.e. cummings
Bill Edwards
2007-11-30 14:33:41 UTC
Permalink
Addendum.

Took some finding, but in 1900 the Kleinkaufs were listed as,
surprise, Kleinhauff.
John - July 1844, Germany, day laborer
Rosa - February 1852, Germany
Henry - May 1886, Pennsylvania, at school
Peter - Jan? 1889, Pennsylvania, at school
There is a Robert in the house, but last name is Reinhart?
Inconsistent with the 1910 findings.

Looking for DoD I found Peter in September of 1967. Did not locate
Henry readily.

Hope that fills in a bit more.
Dr H
2007-11-30 21:29:34 UTC
Permalink
On Fri, 30 Nov 2007, Bill Edwards wondrously revealed:

}Addendum.
}
}Took some finding, but in 1900 the Kleinkaufs were listed as,
}surprise, Kleinhauff.
}John - July 1844, Germany, day laborer
}Rosa - February 1852, Germany
}Henry - May 1886, Pennsylvania, at school
}Peter - Jan? 1889, Pennsylvania, at school
}There is a Robert in the house, but last name is Reinhart?
}Inconsistent with the 1910 findings.
}
}Looking for DoD I found Peter in September of 1967. Did not locate
}Henry readily.
}
}Hope that fills in a bit more.
}


Bill, you are amazing and your website is a fabulous resource.

Thanks for making all this ragtime information available!

Dr H
Bill Edwards
2007-11-30 20:32:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dr H
Bill, you are amazing and your website is a fabulous resource.
Thanks for making all this ragtime information available!
Dr H
Actually, I'm far from amazing. I make mistrakes too, but readily
correct them when they are found. I just have a passion for this, and
anybody with a passion, be it goth or Britney or ancient font faces or
ornithology or diplomacy can make good with that if they apply
themselves.

I often think of Clint Eastwood's response when he was called a genius
by an interviewer after Unforgiven was released. He made it clear he
does not believe in geniuses so much as people who have a passion that
matches their vocation and avocation, since they will achieve more
given their desire to learn or explore more.

In this case, I have garnered the tools, experiences and passwords (at
some cost, but worth it) to quickly access lots of information of this
kind, and my desire to share it so you can all come along for the ride
and share my passion allows me to freely feed it to the world. My
biggest regret is that my brain usually works faster than my hands,
which even at 110 wpm average still aren't fast enough, and errors can
creep in through minor spelling glitches or missing a number. So I
have to temper the enthusiasm with a little more careful proofreading,
which has been working better for me as of late.

Also in this case, as it has been with many others, I find that
surviving family members of those I do bios on contact me to thank me
for the information they could not locate, and for sources as well. So
it goes beyond ragtime enthusiasts, and each case like that is special
to me.

In any case, I'm justaguy, not so amazing, who knows how to type and
look things up, and sometimes do the math to add things up too. Thanks
for the sentiment in any case.

Appreciatively, Bill E.

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