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Josephine Geritz collection on John Jacob Niles, 1937-1952

details | guide | text

Author

Finding aid prepared by Heidi Taylor-Caudill

Title

Josephine Geritz collection on John Jacob Niles

Date

1937-1952

Repository

University of Kentucky Special Collections

Arrangement

Collection is arranged by subject.

Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open to researchers by appointment.

Preferred Citation Note

2013ms0849 : [identification of item], Josephine Geritz collection on John Jacob Niles, 1937-1952, University of Kentucky Special Collections.

Extent

0.3 Cubic feet

1 box (21 items)

Biography/History

Josephine Heintz Geritz, pianist, lecturer, and piano instructor, was born in Los Angeles, California, on July 7, 1899. She studied piano with several prominent teachers including Polish Romantic composer Sigismond Stojowski, Hungarian-American pianist Alexander Raab, Ann J. Eachus, and Paolo Galileo. She also studied harmony with music educators Carolyn Alden Alchin and Vincent Jones, and orchestration with conductor Walter Henry Rothwell. In 1916 Josephine Geritz began teaching piano. Over the course of her career she trained many professional pianists and composers; one of her most famous students was American composer James Newton Howard. Josephine Geritz worked with the Los Angeles Philharmonic as a symphonic reviewer and rehearsal pianist. On March 26, 1927, she married Hungarian-born artist Franz Geritz. The couple was known for hosting many visiting artists, including Ernest Hemingway, at their Los Angeles home.

John Jacob Niles, composer, performer, and author, was born in Louisville in 1892. Coming from a musical family, Niles began to play the dulcimer at an early age. As a teenager he worked with a surveying team in eastern Kentucky. During this time he kept a notebook in which he recorded lyrics and music of old folk songs known in the area. Niles served as a U.S. Army pilot in World War I and made numerous reconnaissance flights until he suffered serious injuries in a plane crash. After the war he studied music at the University of Lyon and the Schola Cantorium in Paris. Niles completed his musical education at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. He renewed his search for folk songs in Appalachia as he accompanied noted photographer Doris Ulmann on her travels through the mountain region. He set traditional songs in new arrangements and composed many original songs.

Fletcher, Russell Holmes. Who's who in California. California: Who's Who publications, 1943.

Scope and Content

The Josephine Geritz collection on John Jacob Niles (dated 1937-1952, 0.3 cubic feet; 21 items) comprises sheet music in handwritten and facsimile form that document folk music from the Appalachian Region adapted by composer John Jacob Niles. All material, except two, is the work of John Jacob Niles.

Many of the scores are dedicated to Josephine Heintz Geritz, rehearsal pianist for the LA Philharmonic and friend of John Jacob Niles. Niles gifted the scores to her while he stayed at her house in the 1940s.

Subjects

  • Appalachian Region.
  • Frost, Richard B.
  • Niles, John Jacob, 1892-1980
  • Composers
  • Folk Music.
  • Music--Appalachian Region
  • Sheet music.

Related Material

82M9, John Jacob Niles papers, 1900-1980, University of Kentucky Special Collections.

Collection Inventory

Series I. John Jacob Niles, 1937-1952
Scope and Content Note:

Comprises piano sheet music in handwritten and facsimile form that document folk music from the Appalachian Region and original scores by John Jacob Niles.

Subseries A. Handwritten musical scores, 1944-1948
1944-1945
[Box: 1, Folder: 1]
Green Beds, 1944 June 23
[Box: 1, Folder: 1, Item: 1-3]
Scope and Content Note:

Played with 2 pianos. Gathering of three copies of Green Beds. Text of song taken from a folk song titled Green Beds and adapted by John Jacob Niles. Dedicated to Josephine Geritz. Third copy is not in John Jacob Niles' hand.

The Story of the Bee, 1944 August
[Box: 1, Folder: 1, Item: 4]
Scope and Content Note:

Played with 2 pianos. Adapted from the folksong Do Take Care of the Bee Boys. Dedicated to Josephine Geritz of Los Angeles Hollywood. No manuscript source prior to this copy.

The Little Mohee (My Little Mohee), 1944 August 13
[Box: 1, Folder: 1, Item: 5]
Scope and Content Note:

Piano solo for 2 pianos. Family folk song adapted by John Jacob Niles. Dedicated to Josephine Geritz of Hollywood California. Written notes above portions of the music include The sailor comes to grief through the vamping of a gay young female with low standards and The Salvation Army comes to pray for the sailor.

The Little Mohee (My Little Mohee), 1944 August 13
[Box: 1, Folder: 1, Item: 6]
Scope and Content Note:

Piano solo for 2 pianos. Adapted from a family folk song sung by John Jacob Niles' father. Dedicated to Josephine Geritz of Hollywood California. Written notes above portions of the music include The sailor meets the girl, The sailor comes to grief through the vamping of a gay young female with low standards and The Salvation Army comes to pray for the sailor.

Jesus, Jesus Rest Your Head, 1945 May 18
[Box: 1, Folder: 1, Item: 7]
Scope and Content Note:

Played with four hands at one piano. A folk carol collected from the Graham Family of Vine Grove, KY, and adapted by John Jacob Niles. Dedicated to Josephine Geritz of Los Angeles California.

1945-1948
[Box: 1, Folder: 2]
Jesus the Christ Is Born, 1945 June 22, July 10
[Box: 1, Folder: 2, Item: 1]
Scope and Content Note:

Played with four hands at one piano. Collected and adapted by John Jacob Niles. Dedicated to Josephine Geritz. Dated June 22, 1945 on cover and July 10, 1945 at end.

The Gypsy Laddie (The Lady and the Gypsy), 1947 May 2
[Box: 1, Folder: 2, Item: 2]
Scope and Content Note:

Piano solo. Child ballad collected and adapted by John Jacob Niles. Dedicated to Mrs. Josephine. Handwritten notes include Child Ballad 200 and Improvisations no 10.

The Rovin' Gambler (from the Gambler Songs), 1947 June 16
[Box: 1, Folder: 2, Item: 3]
Scope and Content Note:

Played with four hands at one piano. Collected and adapted from folk sources by John Jacob Niles. Dedicated to Josephine. Copied in Carbondale, Illinois. Marked as the first in a series of four hands at one piano and orchestra bound.

The Carrion Crow, 1948
[Box: 1, Folder: 2, Item: 4]
Scope and Content Note:

Piano solo. Folk nursery rhyme from the Appalachians, collected and adapted by John Jacob Niles. Lewis Henry Horton also listed as composer/arranger. Dedicated to Mrs. Josephine. Title page includes note For young players at the piano.

I'm Goin' Away (He's Goin' Away), 1948 July 5
[Box: 1, Folder: 2, Item: 5]
Scope and Content Note:

Played with four hands at one piano. Dedicated to Josephine Geritz, Los Angeles California.

One Morning in May, 1948
[Box: 1, Folder: 2, Item: 6]
Scope and Content Note:

Played with piano. Collected and adapted from folk sources by John Jacob Niles. Lewis Henry Horton also listed as composer/arranger. Dedicated to Mrs. Josephine Geritz. Title page includes handwritten note for young people at the piano.

I Wonder As I Wander, undated
[Box: 1, Folder: 3]
Subseries B. Facsimiles, 1949-1952
1949
[Box: 1, Folder: 4]
Lo How the Lonely Places Prosper, 1949 April 25
[Box: 1, Folder: 4, Item: 1]
Scope and Content Note:

Played with voice (soprano) and piano or orchestra. Collected and adapted by John Jacob Niles with passages from the Bible. Dedicated to Rena, Thomas, and Little John.

The Turtle Dove, 1949 July 4-5, August 15
[Box: 1, Folder: 4, Item: 2]
Scope and Content Note:

Played with piano and voice. Text adapted from a folk love song by John Jacob Niles.

Lamentation, 1950 August 29
[Box: 1, Folder: 5]
Scope and Content Note:

Oratorio for soloists, chorus, and piano. John Jacob Niles' adaptation of various texts and the Bible. Dedicated to Rena, Thomas, and Little John.

1950-1952
[Box: 1, Folder: 6]
I Never Had But One Love, 1950 September 15
[Box: 1, Folder: 6, Item: 1]
Scope and Content Note:

Played with piano and voice. Text and music by John Jacob Niles. Dedicated to Gladys Swarthout.

The Little Lyking and Sweet Marie and Her Baby, 1952 February 7, June 1
[Box: 1, Folder: 6, Item: 2-3]
Scope and Content Note:

Piano solos. Dedicated to Josephine Geritz.

I Wonder As I Wander, undated
[Box: 1, Folder: 7]
Scope and Content Note:

Played with four hands at one piano. Collected and adapted by John Jacob Niles from singing of Annie Morgan at Brasstown, NC. Dedicated to Josephine Geritz of Los Angeles, California. Incomplete.

Subseries C. Published songbook, Ballads, Carols, and Tragic Legends from the Southern Appalachian Mountains, 1937 September 18
[Box: 1, Folder: 9]
Scope and Content Note:

Played with piano. Collected and adapted by John Jacob Niles. Published octavo edition by G. Schirmer in the American Folk Song Series. Stamped John de Keyser and Company Music Dealers, 625 South Grand Ave. Los Angeles, CA. Contains: Riddles Wisely Expounded, The Wife of Usher's Well, Oh! Who's Going To Shoe Your Pretty Little Foot, Never Was a Child So Lovely, The Two Corbies, Father Grumble, Sweet Jane, I Wash My Face in a Golden Vase, The Cruel Mother, Lord Thomas and Fair Ellender.

Series II. Unidentified composers, undated
Scope and Content Note:

Comprises sheet music in handwritten form that documents music for the piano, saxophone, and alto clarinet by unknown composers.

Idle Hill of Summer, undated
[Box: 1, Folder: 8, Item: 1]
Scope and Content Note:

Played with piano. Unknown composer, signed John Linnel? Possibly another piece written for Josephine Geritz to perform.

Little Piece for Saxophone, Alto Clarinet, and Piano, undated
[Box: 1, Folder: 8, Item: 2]
Scope and Content Note:

Played with saxophone, alto clarinet, and piano. Composer: John Linnie? Hassell? Dedicated to Josephine Geritz.