Cloud Kisser by Charles Leslie Johnson (1911)

Charles Leslie Johnson published his 1911 rag Cloud Kisser pseudonymously as Raymond Birch. Cloud Kisser is a lighthearted piece, yet has moments of surprising warmth and music box-like delicacy. Like Johnson’s other work, Cloud Kisser is pleasant and charming, not superficial; I would offer this piece as a rebuttal to the notion that Johnson produced works of questionable artistic merit.

Like other top composers of the Original Ragtime Era, Johnson was a deft harmonist and builder of instrumental texture. The piece’s whimsical sheet music cover depicts a couple in a high-altitude romantic excursion aboard a Wright Flyer. Sheet music for Cloud Kisser can be downloaded at imslp.org, as well as Ted Tjaden’s website ragtimepiano.ca.

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Brandon Byrne Ragtime Piano Composition

Brandon Byrne is a ragtime composer, performer, and scholar. Max Morath said of Byrne, “Brandon’s unique compositions display unparalleled gifts and hidden virtuosity. His music reflects the past and challenges the future. His playing will touch your soul.” For a full list of his compositions, please visit his website.

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