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date: 27 May 2020

Krell, William H(enry) locked

  • Bryan S. Wright


(b Tamaqua, PA, May 1868; d Miami, FL, Sept 30, 1933). American Bandleader and composer. Born to a German immigrant cigar maker and his American-born wife, Krell began musical training as a child, studying both brass instruments and piano. In his teens he led local bands, writing arrangements for them. He moved to Chicago sometime around 1890, where he married and began leading a touring band professionally. His first published composition, “Our Carter: A Beautiful Ballad” (with Silas Leachman), appeared in 1893, dedicated to the recently assassinated Chicago mayor, Carter Harrison Sr. In the seven years that followed, Krell published an additional 16 pieces, mostly waltzes, marches, or cakewalks. He is best remembered for his “Mississippi Rag,” copyrighted 27 January 1897, which is the earliest copyrighted piece designated “Rag” in the title. The piece does not follow the classic AABBACCDD piano rag form, but like many early so-called rags, it strings together several lightly syncopated melodic strains in imitation of a “cakewalk patrol.” Krell evokes the sound of a passing parade band, beginning with a quiet, repetitive opening motive that crescendos to a boisterous middle section, concluding with a return to the opening motive that decrescendos to a quiet finish. Although Krell originally conceived of the piece for band, it became famous through a piano reduction arrangement. Although Krell published no new pieces after ...

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